I know a lot of people are hesitant about starting a plant-based lifestyle because they fear they'll miss out on essential nutrients, one of those being iron. Do I get enough iron on my plant based diet? Hell yeah I do! Iron is actually found in a huge range of vegan sources and it's not a challenge to get exactly what you need.
What Is Iron & Why Is It Important?
Iron is an essential mineral that we need to maintain a healthy, happy body. It's main job is to carry oxygen around our body and without it our body struggles to do this, red blood cells decrease in number & size and our organs, tissues and digestive system can't work as well as they normally would. So clearly iron is extremely important and making sure we get enough of this mineral is vital.
Plant-based iron sources are found everywhere and studies have actually shown that vegans consume as much iron as omnivores too, sometimes even more! This could be due to the fact vegans tend to get more vitamin C through their diet than meat-eaters and vitamin C boosts iron absorption dramatically.
What Are The Best Plant-Based Iron Sources?
It's recommend women (aged 14-50) need 15-18mg iron a day (women over 50 need 8mg) and men should be getting 8-11mg daily. Easy peasy!
80g Chickpeas = 2.4mg Iron
75g Lentils (cooked) = 6.6mg Iron
40g Cashews = 2mg Iron
90g Spinach = 3.2mg Iron
90g Kidney beans = 2.2mg Iron
2 Tbsp Tahini = 2.7mg Iron
1 large potato = 3.2mg Iron
50g Raw cacao powder = 3.7mg Iron (yessss raw chocolate!)
90g Quinoa (cooked) = 1.4mg Iron
170g Broccoli = 1.1mg Iron
150g Peas = 2.5mg Iron
50g Oats = 1.9mg Iron
If you had porridge for breakfast with almond milk, raisins and nuts then a lentil soup for lunch, hummus and carrot sticks as a snack and a curry with broccoli, spinach and chickpeas accompanied by quinoa for dinner you're smashing your iron needs for the day!
Can I Still Be Iron Deficient On A Plant-Based Diet?
Whether you're on a plant based diet or not it's always possible to be iron deficient or anaemic, especially if you suffer with coeliac disease or any condition that causes stomach or bowl inflammation. If you're worried about your iron levels you can see your doctor who will run blood tests. To boost your iron levels even more make sure you're eating foods high in vitamin C like red pepper, oranges, kiwi, cauliflower, broccoli and strawberries.
I know iron intake is a big concern for people before they transition to a plant-based diet, so I hope this helped you see it's actually not something you even have to think about if you're eating a wide range of delicious, fresh, wholesome foods.