Although it can be taken as a supplement, there is plenty of iron available in our dietary sources. Vegans can find non-heme iron in dried beans and legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grain cereals and breads. On dairy, I also wanted to add that it’s not just that vegans substitute iron-containing plant foods for dairy and eggs, but that dairy is fortified with calcium and high calcium intake decreases iron absorption when consumed together. 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.
You just need to make sure you consume plenty of foods rich in non-heme iron, as well as foods that help your body absorb it. But now that I eat a lot of foods on the high-iron foods list, I feel like I should give blood donation another chance because, after all, you are saving someone’s life. Nutritionists say it’s important to eat foods high in iron, as well as foods that help the body absorb the mineral. Some might expect that since the vegan diet contains a form of iron that is not as well absorbed, vegans might be prone to developing iron deficiency anemia.
Iron absorption is greatly enhanced by consuming foods containing vitamin C along with iron-containing foods. 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 this mineral. It’s a good idea to combine these iron-rich foods with foods rich in vitamin C, as C helps the body use iron. A great trick to help improve iron absorption while following a vegan diet is to combine iron-rich foods.