Iron in a Vegan Diet

Your body needs iron to be healthy and strong. It is needed to make proteins, such as haemoglobin and myoglobin. Here’s where to find it as a vegan (and it’s not all about spinach….)

Unidentified person holding a bowl of raw spinach - a key source of iron for vegans
Image Credit: Unsplash

Vegan sources of iron

It shouldn’t prove too tricky getting enough iron as a vegan, as it’s found plentifully in many foods. Some of the best sources are:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Dark chocolate
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Tofu
  • Dried fruits (raisins, dates, prunes, figs, apricots)
  • Molasses
  • Beans
  • Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds
Tofu curry
Image Credit: AdobeStock

How much iron do I need?

In India, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Iron varies, depending on your age and sex

Adult male: 17mg

Adult female: 21mg

Pregnant women: 35mg

Nursing women: 21mg

A very small percentage of women develop iron-deficiency anaemia – this is especially the case with endurance runners, or women with heavy periods. If you have concerns about your iron levels, please visit your doctor. They may decide to take a blood test and recommend supplementation if your iron levels are low.

How to get enough iron

  • A great way to guarantee you’re absorbing enough iron from plant foods is to eat a significant source of vitamin C with meals (such as an orange or orange juice), and avoid tea and coffee when eating.
  • Don’t accept nutrition advice from Popeye. While spinach does contain iron, it doesn’t have significant amounts of it – just 2.71mg in 100g, in fact!

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