Iron absorption is greatly enhanced if vitamin C-containing foods are consumed along with iron-containing foods. The reason for the satisfactory iron status of many vegans may be that the foods commonly consumed are high in iron, as shown in Table 1. Some might expect that because the vegan diet contains a form of iron that is not as well absorbed, vegans might be prone to developing iron deficiency anemia. Routine iron supplementation for vegans is usually not necessary, unless you have difficulty maintaining healthy iron levels through diet alone.
There is a misconception that a vegan diet lacks iron; however, vegans are no more likely to develop iron deficiency anaemia than the general population. It is important for vegans to be aware of this, as it can affect a vegan’s iron status which is completely dependent on iron absorption from plants. On dairy, I also wanted to add that it’s not just that vegans substitute dairy and eggs for iron-containing plant foods, but that dairy is fortified with calcium and high calcium intake decreases iron absorption when consumed together. The good news is that you can get all the iron you need from a vegan diet because there are many plant foods that contain good amounts of iron.
But now that I eat a lot of foods on the high-iron list, I feel like I should give blood another chance because, after all, it’s saving someone’s life. Vegetarian foods can be excellent sources of iron, especially when eaten in combination with a vitamin C rich food. All of these leafy greens are excellent sources of iron for vegans, as they contain many other important nutrients.