How Do Vegans Get Enough Iron on a Plant-Based Diet?

How Do Vegans Get Enough Iron on a Plant-Based Diet?

Many newly turned or wannabe vegans believe they won't get enough iron if they stop consuming meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.

However, the truth is there're several plant-based sources of iron that vegans can rely on.

And that's what we'll talk about in this blog.

Below, you'll find 7 of the best plant-based sources of iron that, along with iron, contain several other nutrients for added benefits.

In addition, you'll find easy ways to include those food sources in your diet.

So, if you're wondering how do vegans get iron on a plant-based diet, read in full.

How Much Iron do you Need Each Day?

How much iron you need per day isn't as simple as calcium.

It depends on how old you are, your gender (females lose blood and thus iron, so they need more), and if you're pregnant or lactating.

However, here's a tabular representation of how much calcium different individuals require each day for better understanding:

What Happens When You Don't Consume Enough Iron?

While iron has numerous functions to perform, the most important one producing hemoglobin, a protein found in your RBCs. This protein enables the RBCs to carry oxygen via your blood vessels to all your tissues and muscles, ensuring proper functioning.

However, if you don't consume enough dietary iron, the production of hemoglobin will decline, which means your muscles and tissues won't get enough oxygen to function properly. And this eventually leads to a condition known as iron deficiency anemia (more common in females as they lose a lot of iron in the form of blood during menstruation.). Common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Unusual Tiredness or Fatigue
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Pale Skin
  • Headache
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Mouth Ulcers

However, fortunately, you can deal with these symptoms or iron deficiency anemia by consuming iron-rich foods each day.

Top 7 Plant-Based Foods to Help you Meet your Calcium Needs?

1.    Spinach

Leafy greens such as spinach are one of the best sources of iron. Just 100 grams of raw or cooked spinach offers you 2.71 mg of iron. To put into perspective, if you're an adult male (over 18 years of age), consuming 100 grams of spinach will offer you 34% of the RDI.

Spinach is not limited to iron when it comes to nutrients. It also contains fiber, vitamins A and E, calcium, and even protein. And all these nutrients can help strengthen your bones, heart health, and even your immune system.

How do vegans get iron from spinach?

You can thoroughly wash spinach leaves, add some salt and eat raw. Or you can add some spinach leaves to your smoothies. However, the best way to consume spinach is by cooking it. This way, your body will absorb both iron and calcium from spinach better.

2.    Pumpkin Seeds

While they look small, pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and delicious too. Just 100 grams of pumpkin seeds offer you around 3.31 mg of iron. Along with iron, pumpkin seeds are also rich in healthy fats, zinc fiber, protein, phosphorous, and even protein.

Regularly consuming pumpkin seeds can improve sleep, promote weight loss, boost bone health and reduce inflammation. So, you can expect to get the iron you need along with numerous other benefits.

How do vegans get iron from pumpkin seeds?

If you don't have enough time to spare, you can eat them raw or sprinkle some seeds on your favorite salad. Or you can just blend some seeds and add them you're your smoothie. However, if you're looking for a tasty way to consume pumpkin seeds, roast them in melted butter or olive oil and throw in some seasonings as per your liking.

3.    Soybean

Soybean (mature seeds) is one of the most common species of legumes that vegans rely on for meeting their need for nutrients. And why shouldn't they? After all, soybean is a rich source of nutrients, particularly iron. One hundred grams of dry or cooked soybean contain around 3.95 mg of iron.

Along with iron, soybean also comes with decent calcium, magnesium, protein, and vitamin C content. And all these nutrients collectively help alleviate the symptoms of menopause and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, breast and prostate cancer.

How do vegans get iron from soybean?

Dried soybean seeds are quite tasty as they are. You can eat them raw as a snack, or you can steam them, fry them or even use them in salads. Another way of consuming soybean is by preparing a tasty curry full of spices.

4.    Tofu

Tofu is formed when the coagulated soy milk is pressed into blocks. It's similar to cheese, but for making tofu, soy milk is used instead of dairy milk. This soy product is one of the best sources of iron. Just 100 grams of tofu offers you 5.36 mg of iron and 8 grams of protein, along with a couple of other nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, fiber, potassium, etc.

Tofu is full of benefits. For instance, its fiber content helps improve colon health and reduces the risk of colon cancer. In addition, tofu helps deal with memory loss and improves your ability to think as you grow older.

How do vegans get iron from tofu?

Like the others on the list, the best way is to eat tofu raw. Just cut it into small consumable slices and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Or you can roast or even fry it, making it all the more delicious to consume.

Pro Tip: If you’re health conscious, stick to eating it raw or blending it into smoothies, as this will help you minimize the use of oils.

5.    Cashew Nuts

Cashew nuts pack a powerful punch of nutrients, especially iron and protein. A 100-gram serving of cashews offers you 6.7 mg of iron and 18 grams of protein. Along with iron and protein, cashews also offer fiber, zinc, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, and several other nutrients.

Cashews are particularly good for heart health because of their rich essential fatty acid content. It also improves your blood vessels and also boosts your overall heart health. In addition, cashews reduce LDL or bad cholesterol and improve the good one.

How do vegans get iron from cashews?

This seems like a no-brainer, but cashews can be eaten raw. However, if you want to make it more fun and tastier, roast the cashews, sprinkle salt, and consume them as a snack. Or you can add cashews to your salads or soups or even create cashew butter and spread it on some bread.

6.    Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans 

Chickpeas are legumes similar to lentils, beans, and fresh peas. However, the nutrient content in chickpeas is way better than other legumes. Where 100 grams of green peas contain 1.5 mg of iron, 100 grams of chickpeas contain around 6.2 mg of iron and an extraordinary 20-gram protein.

Chickpeas are also an excellent source of zinc, phosphorus, phosphorus, and other vitamins and minerals. Regularly consuming this legume can help you naturally manage weight and improve your digestion.

How do vegans get iron from chickpeas?

One of the easiest ways how do vegans get iron from chickpeas is by boiling and consuming them before breakfast. This requires the least effort and does the job. However, you can also grind some chickpeas into a paste and then add them to your veggie burgers. Or you can season chickpeas with your favorite spices and roast them.

7.    Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds seem to be the best answer to the question of how do vegans get iron. Because 100 grams of sesame seeds can offer you up to 14.6 mg of iron. It means most adult males need just 50 grams of sesame seeds each day to meet their daily needs, and adult females need just over 100 grams.

Known for their distinct nutty flavor, sesame seeds are perhaps the best plant-based source of calcium, protein, potassium, and several other nutrients, along with iron. Regularly consuming sesame seeds can help you strengthen your bones and ensure healthy blood vessel function and muscle movement.

How do vegans get iron from sesame seeds?

A common way how do vegans get iron from sesame seeds is by sprinkling them on stir-fries, cold noodles, or even salads. Or you can grind some sesame seeds into a fine powder and then add it to oatmeal for extra nutrition.

Can Anyone Consume Any of the Above Foods? 

Mostly, yes, everyone can consume the aforementioned foods. However, if you're pregnant, you must avoid sesame seeds, especially during the first trimester, as they can make you nauseous.

To be on the safer side, consider talking to a healthcare expert before you consume any of the above foods daily. Also, ask them to help you create a diet plan so that you can include the right quantity of these foods to ensure adequate iron or nutrient intake.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know the answer to how do vegans get iron, it's time to start including the above foods in your diet. And similar to iron, there are several reliable sources of vitamin B12, protein, calcium, and other important nutrients. So, rest assured staying vegan doesn't deprive you of nutrients. You just need to look harder and you’ll get substitutes for everything you used to eat as a non-vegan..

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