Dietary iron absorption is low in vegans and vegetarians. This is because in plant-based diets most dietary iron is non-haem iron, and its absorption is often less than 10%. This is much lower than meat which is haem iron, where absorption is 15-35%.
Not getting enough iron in your diet can result in iron deficiency which can have negative effects on your health including poor pregnancy outcomes, susceptibility to infections, fatigue and decreased productivity.
- Modify food preparation techniques: use iron cookware especially for cooking acidic foods that solubilize iron from the pan.
- Modify food combinations: When consuming iron-containing foods with sources of Vitamin C containing foods (i.e., broccoli, oranges, capsicums, cauliflower). Try to limit inhibitory foods such as coffee and tea to between meals.
- Increase consumption of plant based sources or iron: some of the best plant based sources of iron are: lentils, soybeans, tofu, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, nuts and seeds, green leafy veg (i.e., spinach, broccoli)
- Supplementation: Iron supplementation is usually targeted to high-risk groups (i.e., pregnant women). For oral supplementation, ferrous iron salts (ferrous sulphate and ferrous gluconate) are preferred because of their low cost and high absorption.