Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. The good news is that you can get all the iron you need from a vegan diet because there are lots of plant foods containing good amounts of this mineral.
Your daily iron intake
In the UK, it is recommended that most adults have a dietary iron intake of 8.7mg (milligrams) per day. However, those who menstruate should aim for a higher intake of 14.8mg per day.
Sources of iron
Good plant sources of iron include:
- Cashew nuts
- Chia seeds
- Ground linseed
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dried apricots and figs
- Fortified breakfast cereal
There are lots of factors that affect the amount of iron your body can absorb from your diet. The most important factor is your body’s need for iron: more is absorbed when your body is short of iron, and less is absorbed when your stores are full. Tea, coffee and some substances in plant foods may make it difficult for your body to absorb iron. On the other hand, vitamin C increases iron absorption.
Good sources of vitamin C include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Orange juice.
Need some inspiration?
Try the following meal suggestions to help combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C:
- Top porridge with ground linseed and raisins, and serve with orange juice
- Eat a kiwifruit after a lentil curry
- Add broccoli to a tofu stir-fry
- Add pepper to a bean chili
- Ensure that your daily diet contains plenty of iron-rich foods
- If you are eating a food rich in iron, add a good source of vitamin C to help your body absorb the iron
- Avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals