Plantbased Iron

Iron is another mineral that people assume you won’t be able to source on a plant-based diet because if you’re not eating steak every night then surely you’re deficient? In reality, there are anabundance of iron rich plant-based foods from nuts and seeds to legumes and vegetables. It is true however that plant-based sources of iron are harder to absorb (as they contain non-heme iron as oppose to the heme iron found in animal foods) so in that respect it’s no wonder that people get themselves into a panic. There really isn’t any need to be worried; although vegans have been shown to have lower stores of iron, they’re actually at no bigger risk of developing a deficiency – plus if you know where to look then it’s incredibly easy to source!

Iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in the UK but it is essential in order to maintain good health – this multitasking mineral helps maintain healthy skin, hair & nails, contributes to proper liver function and cell growth and is essential for normal functioning of the immune system. It’s most important roles however are in the production of red blood cells and the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, transporting it around the body. Lack of iron can lead to anemia which causes symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath and as our bodies can’t produce iron on their own, it’s important that we all make a conscious effort to source it through our diet.

The government recommends that women consume 14.8mg of iron per day whilst men only need 8.7mg. Due to plant-based iron sources being slightly harder for our bodies to absorb it’s suggested that those following a plant-based diet need as much as 1.8 times more iron, which can sound daunting but if you know where to look then it requires little effort. In order to insure that iron is being absorbed properly, you should also aim to eat foods rich in vitamin C as it has been proven that this can help to increase absorption by up to 5 times! And although that in itself may sound complicated, it too is surprisingly easy – combinations such as tomatoes and quinoa or hummus with red pepper crudites are perfect whilst some iron rich foods such as peas, kale and broccoli already contain vitamin C too.

Top Plantbased Sources of Iron

  1. Cashews 8.22mg per cup
  2. Lentils 6.6mg per cup
  3. Spinach 6.4mg per cup
  4. Chickpeas 4.7mg per cup
  5. Swiss Chard 4mg per cup
  6. Kidney Beans 3.9mg per cup
  7. Quinoa 2.8mg per cup
  8. Tahini 2.7mg per tbsp
  9. Peas 2.5mg per cup
  10. Spirulina 2mg per tbsp

It would be incredibly easy to incorporate a portion of all of these foods throughout the day in order to increase your daily intake – a green smoothie with cashews, spinach and spirulina for breakfast, a salad with lentils, swiss chard and chickpeas for lunch and quinoa with tahini, kidney beans and peas for dinner -how simple was that? By consuming all of these foods on a daily basis, you’re sure to keep that pesky iron deficiency at bay and prove that iron is easy to source on a plant-based diet.

You can read about how easy it is to source calcium on plantbased diet here.

 

 

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