Other than Vitamin B12 deficiency, an iron deficiency is probably the next most likely deficiency in vegans.
Being deficient in iron leads to fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, or even restless leg syndrome, and many more negative health effects
It can have very serious consequences and is hard to correct (it takes 8-12 weeks of taking an iron supplement to fix it).
Why iron is important
Iron, a mineral found in foods that we eat, combines with certain proteins to make hemoglobin in your red blood cells. The red blood cells, in turn, carry oxygen throughout your body.
Therefore, it’s important you have a high enough iron level to ensure that your body has the number of red cells it needs to carry enough oxygen through your body.
Iron-Rich Foods that are suitable for a Vegan diet
Many ‘new’ vegans find it hard to get enough iron in their diet. Below are some foods that are rich in iron and can be added to a vegan diet. I have also listed some of the foods other benefits:
- Dried seaweed (spirulina)
- Chia seeds – gluten-free.
- Morel mushrooms (raw) – A great source of vitamin D2.
- Lemongrass (raw) – A good source of vitamins A and C, B9, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese and calcium.
- Cashews (raw) – one of the highest vegan iron sources.
- Sesame seeds (hulled, dried) – Good source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, molybdenum, zinc, selenium, and fibre.
- Parsley (raw)
- Oat bran (dry)
- Almonds (raw) – A good source of molybdenum, magnesium, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
- Jerusalem artichokes (raw) – Also play a role as a i.
- Lentils (cooked)
- Chickpeas (cooked) –
- Red kidney beans (cooked) – Contain essential amino acids, vitamin B9, fibre, potassium, magnesium, and a number of other important health-promoting nutrients.
- Lima beans (cooked) – source of copper, dietary fibre, molybdenum, and manganese.
- Brazil nuts – rich in healthy fats, selenium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, thiamine, and vitamin E.
- Raisins (uncooked) – The health benefits of raisins include relief from acidosis, constipation, fever, anaemia,
- Swiss chard (raw)
- Kale (raw)
- Quinoa (cooked)
- Brussels sprouts
- Brown rice (steamed)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark Chocolate
- Baked Potatoes
Foods that help with the absorption of Iron
Eating foods with high levels of vitamin C will help increase your body’s ability to absorb iron. Some of these foods include:
- Citrus fruits
- Red/Green Peppers
The three main ways that vegans can get enough iron to avoid a deficiency are:
- Focus more on eating foods high in iron.
- Always pair iron sources with vitamin C in a meal.
- Take an iron supplement if you think it’s needed.