Our Guide to Getting Enough Iron, Part 2: The Best Vegan Sources of Iron
Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs to support various functions. Fortunately, you can get it from multiple sources, such as meat and vegetables. However, your iron source won’t matter if you can’t process the food source properly. Fortunately, there are a few ways to do this, allowing you to increase your iron levels without going overboard.
In our previous article, we discussed the importance of getting enough iron in your diet and the causes of low iron levels. In this article, we’ll discuss ways to increase your iron absorption and the best vegan sources of iron, allowing you to live a healthy lifestyle and live on a vegan diet. Here’s what you need to know:
Increasing Iron Absorption
Eating tons of iron sources won’t do much if your body can’t process it well. However, consuming more vitamin C will help your body absorb non-heme iron. While this iron form isn’t readily available for the body, taking it with vitamin C enhances the solubility of iron in the small intestine, helping you meet your iron intake requirements. You can do this by incorporating foods rich in vitamin C while consuming your iron sources, like broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, and bell peppers.
The way you cook your food also affects its iron content. Cooking your food in a cast-iron skillet infuses it with iron. When exposed to heat, the iron will leach into the food, fortifying it with even more of the mineral.
Additionally, taking your coffee and tea at certain times of the day can aid in iron absorption. Drinking your morning cup early in the morning will prevent the polyphenols and tannins from interfering with the absorption of non-heme iron. For this reason, it’s best to space your iron-rich meal and your coffee and tea to get the most out of your food.
It is also best not to mix high-calcium foods with your iron-rich meal, as calcium supplements can hinder iron absorption by nearly 50 percent. You’ll also want to maintain B vitamin levels, as vitamin B12 helps support the production of new red blood cells, ensuring your body has an abundant supply of fresh red blood cells distributing oxygen around your body.
The Best Vegan Sources of Iron
Vegans don’t have to worry about getting left behind in terms of iron sources. There are plenty of plant-based iron sources, such as the following:
- Sea moss
- Soybeans, tempeh, natto, and tofu
- Dark chocolate
- Coconut milk
- Tomato paste
- Leafy greens
- Some nuts like almonds, cashews, pine nuts, and pistachios
- Chickpeas and black-eyed peas
- Prune juice
Here’s a bit more about the common sources of plant-based iron:
Legumes: These are the popular protein sources for vegans, but they also hold a lot of non-heme iron. All legumes contain iron, but soybeans and lentils contain the highest amount. They have 50 to 85 percent of your recommended dietary intake per cup, but they must be boiled or cooked to maximize their benefits.
Grains: Cereals and grains, fortified or otherwise, are excellent sources of iron for those on a plant-based diet. Whole grains contain the highest amount of iron since they aren’t processed or removed of other vital nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables: Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in iron. In fact, 100 grams of spinach has two to three times the amount of iron found in 100 grams of chicken, salmon, and eggs. They’re also easy to integrate into your diet through soups, stir-fries, and smoothies.
Sea moss, in particular, is full of iron. They’re also full of other vital nutrients like protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper while being low in calories. It’s also a great source of iodine, which is essential for supporting optimal thyroid health. Taking 100 grams of sea moss can provide 50 percent of your recommended daily value of iron!
Vegans can get their recommended daily iron intake through plant-based sources, supporting optimal health without consuming animals and their by-products. By choosing these vegan sources of iron, you’ll enjoy a healthy body without packing on the calories!
Wondering where to learn more about a plant based lifestyle? We’ve got you covered at Plant Based Jeff. We are the top sea moss provider and plant-based transition coach, being your one-stop shop for all-natural products like wildcrafted sea moss and more. Check out our e-books and sea moss products today!