Plant-based iron sources are aplenty, but vegans could still be at potential risk of developing iron deficiency. Even the best vegan sources of iron may fail to meet your daily requirements, not for its quantity on the plate but for its quality.
Simply put, the type of iron you consume is just as essential as the amount of iron intake. From children to adults, anyone could be at risk of iron deficiency without even being aware of it. With the ravages of the pandemic still affecting a considerable population, we could do without the added hitch of iron deficiency.
So, if you are wondering how to get iron as a vegan, here are the top vegan iron supplements in the market right now:
Do Vegans Need to Take an Iron Supplement?
Our daily nourishment needs are met by two categories of nutrients, namely macronutrients and micronutrients. Micronutrients can essentially be classified into minerals and vitamins, and Iron is one such mineral present in a plethora of edible items as well as nutrition supplements.
Iron is a central component of hemoglobin in the red blood cells or erythrocytes. Why is hemoglobin important? For exhalation, hemoglobin is responsible for transferring oxygen from the lungs to the other parts of the body and carrying carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs.
Iron is also essential in muscle metabolism and the maintenance of healthy connective tissues. It has been scientifically proven that physical development, neurological growth, synthesis of essential hormones, and cellular functioning are partially controlled by the iron content in our body.
Additionally, iron contributes to healthy hair, skin, nails, and bones. For best results, ensure adequate iron intake with consistent collagen supplementation. Iron is essential for strengthening brain functions and a strong immune system among children and adolescents. Women require comparatively more iron than their male counterparts, owing to their menstrual cycles. Iron also plays a crucial role in fetal development and nourishment, so it is heavily recommended during pregnancy.
If you are looking for vegan iron supplements, there are numerous ones readily available in the market. Having said that, we have listed the best ones out of them.
5 Best Vegan Iron Supplements
Finding vegan iron sources could often prove to be more challenging than it seems. Especially with the current pandemic-affected world and the restrictions on food transport, getting your hands on organic vegan foods with iron might not be simple.
Vegan iron supplements are a great alternative if you are concerned about your iron intake. Here are the top 5 best vegan iron supplements:
This vegan iron supplement contains ferrous bisglycinate iron that is easily absorbed by our bodies. Additionally, the inclusion of whole food vitamin C extracted from acerola cherry makes it a perfect fit for the vegan community. The supplements are available in capsule forms with a recommended dose of 1 capsule every day.
Each package comes with 30 capsules designed to last an entire month. The Future Kind vegan iron supplement does not contain any trace of nuts, sugar, animal derivatives, gluten, yeast, GMOs, salt, wheat, artificial colors, or soy.
It is recommended to be consumed either with or without food items. For those under 18 or pregnant and nursing mothers are advised to consult their physician before consumption.
- Easy to swallow
- Abundance of vitamin C to amplify iron absorption
- 100% cruelty-free and vegan
- No discernible taste
Need a quick go-to iron fix in your regular diet? The Snap Iron Builder is the way to go! Easy to consume and digest, this vegan iron supplement boasts overwhelming consumer testimonials raving about the noticeable increase in energy levels.
It is pregnancy-friendly, aiding gestating mothers in maintaining their increased iron intake requirement. Infused with vitamin B and C, essential soluble fibers, and cherry extract, this is one of the best vegan iron supplements available in the market.
It helps in expediting metabolism and maintaining our body’s nutritional equilibrium. The fine folks at snap supplements are generous enough to furnish an additional 25% discount to our readers on their total cart value.
- Rapid action
- Noticeable increase in energy levels
- Aids metabolism
- Easy to swallow and digest
- 2 capsules are recommended with a daily diet
The Naturelo Vegan Iron Supplement promotes organic ingredients as the essential components in their product. It is infused with abundant vitamin C extracted from acerola cherries, beet, spinach, pumpkin seed, kale, and swiss chard. This vegan iron supplement can reduce fatigue without unwanted side effects like constipation or nausea.
The Naturelo Vegan Iron Supplement has been carefully designed for iron-deficient individuals, such as menstruating or pregnant women, dialysis and anemic patients, frequent blood donors, and lastly, vegans and vegetarians.
The use of ferrous bis-glycinate chelate results in twice the bioavailability of alternative forms of iron. The supplement is entirely non-GMO, gluten and soy-free and contains no food coloring, preservatives, or flavoring.
- 100% cruelty-free
- Safe for pregnancies
- Rapid and smooth absorption
- It cannot be consumed without food
- Weak shelf-life
Available in batches of 90 capsules, the MegaFood Blood Builder iron supplement offers comparatively better bulk prices than its competitors. With each capsule having no less than 26 mg of iron content, one capsule will serve you well in your daily diet.
Note that while this is a vegan iron supplement, it does not contain 100% whole foods, unlike the alternatives. There are traces of synthetic components, but it shall come as a relief for those who find this alarming that the vitamin B12 and C content in this supplement make up for its lack of absolute organic ingredients.
- Each pill contains an abundance of iron along with vitamin C and B12
- Reduces fatigue
- Increases energy levels
- Gluten, dairy, and soy-free
- Presence of synthetic components
One of the top-rated vegan iron supplements, the Garden of Life supplement, is available in capsulated forms, making it easy to swallow as well as digest. Each pill contains a whopping 28 mg of iron, which is more than what you would require in your daily diet.
With the inclusion of vitamins B6, B12, and C, you will not require additional vitamin supplements alongside this. You can sate both your iron and vitamin needs with just this vegan iron supplement. Lastly, the presence of probiotics further facilitates digestion and metabolism.
- Contains 28 mg whole-food iron
- Includes vitamins B6, B12, and C for increased iron absorption
- Increases energy levels
- Promotes healthy skin
- Gluten and dairy-free
- Smaller doses can be challenging to consume
How Much Dietary Iron Do You Need A Day?
The recommended daily intake of iron varies according to age and gender. As women lose a lot of red blood cells, mostly iron, during their menses, they need to consume greater amounts of iron and store better reserves in their bodies than men need.
The need of children may surpass twice that of adults when it comes to the RDI of Iron in food. If you are severely deficient in iron you might benefit from vegan iron supplements with proper intake of high iron foods, while if your deficiency is moderate, super green or spirulina supplements that have lower concentration of iron might suffice for you with proper intake of foods high in iron.
Age and Gender – RDI
|Age||Iron Intake (Male)||Iron Intake (Female)|
|0-6 months||0.27 mg||0.27 mg|
|7–12 months||11 mg||11 mg|
|1–3 years||7 mg||7 mg|
|4–8 years||10 mg||10 mg|
|9–13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14–18 years||11 mg||15 mg|
|19–50 years||8 mg||18 mg|
|51+ years||8 mg||8 mg|
|Pregnant Women||N/A||27 mg|
|Lactating Women||N/A||10 mg|
Is a Vegan Diet Inherently Deficient in Iron?
A vegan diet can be deemed deficient in certain nutrients, but iron isn’t one of them. Plant-based foods are rich in iron. As we have discussed before, it does not matter what is the quantity of iron you eat but what is the quality of the iron you are consuming.
There are two types of iron found in food, heme and non-heme iron. Plant-based food is rich in non-heme iron which is lower in terms of bioavailability than heme iron that is present in meat and other animal-based food.
The more bioavailable the iron is the more efficiently it gets absorbed in your body. Even if your diet has greater amounts of iron, if it is non-heme in structure, chances are that your body would not be able to use the iron, exposing you to deficiencies.
Therefore, a vegan diet, made of plant-based food, is not an iron deficit but is less efficient in absorption by the body. Moreover, phytates present in foods such as legumes, grains, and beans have a negative effect that decreases the absorption of iron.
Heme Iron Vs. Non-Heme Iron
Food sources contain two types of iron – heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is the most bioavailable and quickly absorbed iron by the body than non-heme. Heme iron sources mostly include foods like fish, poultry, and meat.
On the other hand, non heme iron sources are plant-based foods like fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The bioavailability of iron in mixed diets is about 14% to 18% which incorporates significant amounts of meat, seafood, and vitamin C and for a vegetarian diet is about 5% to 12%.
Since vegan diets contain mostly or only non heme iron sources, those on a vegan diet should be well aware of the specific iron rich vegan foods. Furthermore, they should also implement other techniques that can enhance the absorption of iron, such as increasing vitamin C or ascorbic acid and decreasing calcium or phytate content.
Signs that may Indicate an Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency is prominently noted in young kids, women experiencing menstruation, and pregnant women. It is, in fact, a matter of concern that women across latitudes and longitudes are more prone to deficiency in iron as compared to men. Similarly, children and teenagers are more dependent on iron for their bodily development than grown-ups do.
However, people with iron deficiency may exhibit signs of other nutrient deficiency since iron helps in metabolizing a number of them. Other signs include extreme fatigue, weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath, pale skin, headache, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, cold limbs, inflammation or soreness in the tongue, dizziness, or brittle nails.
Children may experience an unusual craving for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch. There is a comparatively poor appetite noticed in infants and children with anemia.
The Best Vegan Iron Sources (Vegan Iron Foods)
A few of the best plant-based iron sources in a vegan diet include lentils, blackstrap molasses, tofu, tempeh, swiss chard, beans, spinach, and more. Let’s have a look at a few iron rich vegan foods:
- Lentils: available in three types – brown, green, and red, these are not only rich in iron content but also include substantial amounts of fiber, folate (B vitamin), and potassium. One cup of lentils contains up to 6.6 mg of iron
- Blackstrap molasses: counted as one of the premium non heme iron sources. Two tablespoons full of blackstrap molasses can offer 7.2 milligrams of iron. However, due to higher sugar content, it is advisable not to overindulge in molasses.
- Tofu or Tempeh: Soy foods are popular incorporations in vegan plates. Both of them are proteinaceous and delicious and considered one of the best vegan iron sources. A half-cup serving of tofu offers 6.6 mg of iron whereas Tempeh provides 4.5 mg of iron.
- Swiss Chard: this green leafy vegetable is a storehouse of essential vitamins and minerals. You can eat this nutritious vegetable in several ways from steaming to simply having it raw. Well, eating raw may taste a little bitter. Nevertheless, per serving of one cup of cooked Swiss chard can provide 4 mg of iron.
- Beans: You can be amazed by the iron that beans have to offer- one cup serving size of kidney beans contains 5.2 mg iron and the same quantity of soybeans and lima beans provide for 4.5 mg of iron each.
- Spinach: There is no one way to enjoy spinach in your meals. Whether you decide to cook it or eat it raw in salads or grind it into smoothies, spinach can give you a whopping 6.4 mg of iron per one cup of serving size.
How to increase absorption of iron?
Just as you would add a catalyst to increase the speed of reaction, you would need certain elements to improve the absorption of non-heme from vegan meals. Only Vitamin C can improve the absorption of iron by 67% percent.
You can achieve this by adding a simple avocado to your spinach salad or pairing up lemon or orange juice with a morning iron-fortified cereals breakfast. Thereby, broccoli can go well on a plate of tofu, and lemon juice can season your porridge or hummus (check vegan status) to improve iron absorption from the meal.
List of Vegan Iron Sources (Vegan Foods High in Iron)
Below are some of the plant-based iron sources (vegan foods high in iron) for vegans
|Food||Quantity||Iron content in (mg)|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||1 cup||1.9|
|Potato with skin||1 large||1.9|
|Prune juice||8 ounces||3.0|
|Quinoa, cooked||1 cup||2.8|
|Bulgur, cooked||1 cup||1.7|
|Bok choy, cooked||1 cup||1.8|
|Millet, cooked||1 cup||1.1|
|Broccoli, cooked||1 cup||1.0|
Tips to Ensure You Aren’t Iron Deficient As a Vegan
1. Make use of Cast Iron Skillets
What good can cast-iron skillets do to your food? Well, it can increase the amounts of iron in your cooked meals. But that should also be paired with a good source of Vitamin C. Because besides high amounts of iron you need to improve its absorption too.
2. Combine Iron rich vegan foods with Vitamin C
There we come to the most interesting way of increasing iron absorption in the body – combine iron rich vegan foods with Vitamin C. The absorption of non-heme iron has been scientifically proven to be better than that of heme iron. Non-heme iron can be made more efficient with an ascorbic acid partner from citrus fruits.
3. Avoid pairing Vegan Iron Sources with Calcium
Yes, we agree that you need decent amounts of iron and calcium both but you don’t have to take them together every time right? Calcium is known to inhibit the absorption of iron. Therefore, plan and separate the meals.
4. Add a Fortified Breakfast Cereal to your Diet
Fortified breakfast cereals offer more iron (considered as one of the iron rich vegan foods) and other minerals than regular cereals do. Check the list of the best cereals brands. More iron in the vegan meal increases the possibility of better absorption. Try avoiding calcium and tannins pairing up with iron-rich meals. Tea, coffee, or calcium supplements must be consumed considerable hours before or after an iron-rich meal.
Final Words | Are These Vegan Iron Supplements Good?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, half of the 1.62 billion approximate cases of anemia reported globally are due to iron deficiency. It’s important to remember that vegans and vegetarians are recommended to consume 1.8 times more iron than omnivores or flexitarians. So, if any dynamic requires and benefits from iron supplements, it’s the vegan community.
We hope this provides you with valuable insights about the best vegan iron supplements in the market that can help prevent iron deficiency if you are on a vegan diet.