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How can vegans and vegetarians get sufficient iron?

Evidence shows that iron deficiency anemia appears to be more prevalent among vegetarian men and women than among non-vegetarian men and women. That being said, vegetarians and vegans can obtain sufficient iron from plant-based sources by incorporating certain strategies into their diet.

The Role of Vitamin C

While plant-based iron, known as non-heme iron, is not as readily absorbed as heme iron from animal sources, combining it with vitamin C-rich foods can enhance iron absorption.

Consuming foods such as citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables alongside iron-rich plant foods can promote better iron absorption.

Plant-Based Iron

Incorporating iron-rich plant-based foods like legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fortified cereals can help meet iron requirements.

Iron Inhibitors

It's also important to be mindful of calcium and tannin-rich beverages like tea and coffee, as they can inhibit iron absorption.

A Note for Vegans

Including sources of vitamin B12, such as fortified foods or supplements, is crucial for vegans, as this vitamin is mainly found in animal products. Regular monitoring of iron levels through blood tests is recommended to ensure sufficient iron intake and prevent iron deficiency anemia.


  1. Pawlak, R., Berger, J., & Hines, I. (2016). Iron Status of Vegetarian Adults: A Review of Literature. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 12(6), 486–498.

  2. Stanford Medicine. (2017, October 6). Ways to Boost Blood Iron Levels While Eating a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet. Scope Blog. Retrieved from

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