What are the best sources of iron on a vegan diet? Here’s where to find it (and it’s not all about spinach….)
Your body needs iron to be healthy and strong. It is needed to make proteins, such as haemoglobin and myoglobin.
If you follow a plant-based diet, it’s important to ensure you include enough vegan iron sources in your meals everyday.
Vegan sources of iron
It shouldn’t be difficult getting enough iron as a vegan, as it is found plentifully in many foods. Some of the best plant-based sources are:
- Dark green leafy veg
- Dark chocolate
- Sweet potatoes
- Dried fruit – raisins, dates, figs, prunes and apricots
- Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds (these are great sprinkled on top of your morning cereal or porridge)
- Fortified cereals
Be sure to eat plenty of vitamin C to help you absorb the iron in your food and avoid drinking coffee or tea with your meal, as this can reduce absorption.
How much iron do we need?
The US National Institutes of Health RDA1 varies depending on your age and sex. A very small percentage of women develop iron-deficiency anemia – 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.
- All age groups of men and postmenopausal women – 8 mg/day
- Premenopausal women – 18 mg/day
- The median dietary intake of iron is approximately 16 to 18 mg/day for men and 12 mg/day for women
This content was reviewed by Claire Lynch, RD and nutritionist Rohini Bajekal from Plant-Based Health Professionals in November 2023. For more information, see this fact sheet about iron on a plant-based diet.