Iron In A Vegan Diet

What are the best sources of iron on a vegan diet? Here’s where to find it (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

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
  • Peas
  • Tofu
  • Dried fruit – raisins, dates, figs, prunes and apricots
  • Chickpeas
  • Molasses
  • Beans
  • Artichokes
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • 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.

Sweet and salty tofu salad
Image Credit: AdobeStock

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.

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