12 Top Vegan Iron Sources

If you are a vegan, what is the first argument you hear from meat-eating advocates? Well the sarcastic ones might say something about plants having feelings too, but the most popular rebuttal usually has something to do with iron. And yes iron is an essential mineral because it contributes to the production of blood cells. The human body needs iron to make the oxygen-carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin. But just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you’re going to wither away with anemia.

However, anemia is not something to be taken lightly. (Although I realize I just did.) The World Health Organization considers iron deficiency the number one nutritional disorder in the world. As many as 80 percent of the world’s population may be iron deficient, while 30 percent may have iron deficiency anemia. The human body stores some iron to replace any that is lost. However, low iron levels over a long period of time can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms include lack of energy, shortness of breath, headache, irritability, dizziness, or weight loss. So here’s the 411 on iron: how much you need, where you can get it, and tips to maximize its absorption.

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Iron Requirements
The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following:

Infants and children
Younger than 6 months: 0.27 milligrams per day (mg/day)
7 months to 1 year: 11 mg/day
1 to 3 years: 7 mg/day
4 to 8 years: 10 mg/day

Males
9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day
14 to 18 years: 11 mg/day
Age 19 and older: 8 mg/day

Females
9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day
14 to 18 years: 15 mg/day
19 to 50 years: 18 mg/day
51 and older: 8 mg/day

Non-animal iron sources:
Eating red meat and organ meat are the most efficient ways to get iron, but for vegans, obviously, that’s not going to happen. Here are 12 plant-based foods with some of the highest iron levels:

Tofu (1/2 cup): 6.6 mg
Spirulina (1 tsp): 5 mg
Cooked soybeans (1/2 cup): 4.4 mg
Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce): 4.2 mg
Quinoa (4 ounces): 4 mg
Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp): 4 mg
Tomato paste (4 ounces): 3.9 mg
White beans (1/2 cup) 3.9 mg
Dried apricots (1 cup): 3.5 mg
Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 3.2 mg
Dried peaches (6 halves): 3.1 mg
Prune juice (8 ounces): 3 mg
Lentils (4 ounces): 3 mg
Peas (1 cup): 2.1 mg

Tips to get the most iron out of your food:

  • Eat iron-rich foods along with foods that contain vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the iron.
  • Tea and coffee contains compounds called polyphenols, which can bind with iron making it harder for our bodies to absorb it.
  • Calcium also hinders the absorption of iron; avoid high-calcium foods for a half hour before or after eating iron-rich foods.
  • Cook in iron pots. The acid in foods seems to pull some of the iron out of the cast-iron pots. Simmering acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, in an iron pot can increase the iron content of the brew more than ten-fold. Cooking foods containing other acids, such as vinegar, red wine, lemon or lime juice, in an iron pot can also increase the iron content of the final mixture.

Do you have iron sources that you depend on not mentioned here? Share them with us in the comment field!

Related:
Vegan Sources of Vitamins & Minerals
21 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians
25 Vegan Sources of Calcium

491 comments

Wendi M.
Wendi M.9 days ago

TYFS

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen12 days ago

Thank you

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen12 days ago

Thank you

Joanne p.
Joanne p.13 days ago

ty

Fi T.
Fi T.18 days ago

The choices instead of artificial supplements

Chealen W.
Chealen W.3 months ago

This is what Eltan said. another testifier talking about same doctor who heled me with his herbs. Brothers and Sisters, coming over the internet to testify on how i was cured of Anemia by a herbal Dr Isimhenmhen Anthony was a vow i made to him that if he can cure me just as he have promised to do, i will do what i am doing now. I was diagnosed of Anaemia some time ago; i tried to get rid of it, because the type of it i was having was a deadly one. So i was placed on so many medications but all medications were only palliating my ailment but could not cure me of it. So i always go to the internet whenever i am strong to do, because i like chatting with my friends a lot on the internet. So somehow, i ran across some testimonies about how a woman was cured by this herbal doctor using roots and herbs. Then, there i begin to think about it. So i told my doctor about me trying the herbal option but he said no, that it will only complicate my health issues, and then i remind him if medicines we take were not a product of herbs. on his behalf i contacted the herbal doctor, and explained to him about my Anemia. So he counselled me, and told me about his herbal mixture that can combat Anaemia for me and conquer it for life. So i decided to go by him, we made arrangement, i did all required of me, he prepared the herbs and send to me in my country. so i took it as prescribed by him, and behold i was so shocked how my system responded positively to the herbal medicine, and behold to cu

Chealen W.
Chealen W.3 months ago

Brothers and Sisters, coming over the internet to testify on how i was cured of Anemia by a herbal Dr Isimhenmhen Anthony was a vow i made to him that if he can cure me just as he have promised to do, i will do what i am doing now. I was diagnosed of Anaemia some time ago; i tried to get rid of it, because the type of it i was having was a deadly one. So i was placed on so many medications but all medications were only palliating my ailment but could not cure me of it. So i always go to the internet whenever i am strong to do, because i like chatting with my friends a lot on the internet. So somehow, i ran across some testimonies about how a woman was cured by this herbal doctor using roots and herbs. Then, there i begin to think about it. So i told my doctor about me trying the herbal option but he said no, that it will only complicate my health issues, and then i remind him if medicines we take were not a product of herbs. on his behalf i contacted the herbal doctor, and explained to him about my Anemia. So he counselled me, and told me about his herbal mixture that can combat Anaemia for me and conquer it for life. So i decided to go by him, we made arrangement, i did all required of me, he prepared the herbs and send to me in my country. so i took it as prescribed by him, and behold i was so shocked how my system responded positively to the herbal medicine, and behold to cut the long story short i was finally cured of my Anaemia. So before he sent me the herbs he told me

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers3 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen4 months ago

Thank you

suzie c.
suzie c.4 months ago

Tfs