Iron sources for vegans

Iron can be a tough mineral to get enough of, particularly for those who don’t eat a lot of red meat, or are pregnant, or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Iron is a vital nutrient in the diet, it is essential for blood production, and for oxygen transportation throughout the body. If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Adult men need approximately 8mg/day, while the recommended daily intake for women is 18mg/day. Here are the best vegan iron sources to help you achieve your target:

  • Beans: 1 cup = 9.8mg
  • Lentils: 1 cup cooked = 6.6mg
  • Tofu: 100g = 6.5mg
  • Leafy greens: 1 cup cooked = 6.5mg
  • Quinoa: 1 cup cooked = 3mg
  • Tempeh: 1 cup = 4.5mg
  • Soy beans: 1 cup = 4mg
  • Chia seeds: 100g = 7.7mg (*you’re not likely to eat 100g of chia! 1 tablespoon is more realistic, therefore providing 1.5mg)

Non-animal sources of iron (non-haem iron) are not as readily absorbed by the body compared to haem iron (animal sources). This is way it’s extra important to follow the below tips to ‘boost’ absorption:

  • Add Vitamin C to your iron rich meal – think leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, capsiusm, citris fruit.
  • Avoid calcium rich foods within 30 minutes of having your iron. Calcium hinders iron absorption.
  • Avoid tea or coffee with your iron rich meal, the tannins also hinder iron absorption. Wait 30 minutes either side of your meal before enjoying a cuppa.