According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), vegetarian food can easily provide all nutrients recommended for a healthy diet. Meat, fish, and poultry are major contributors of iron, zinc, and B vitamins in most American diets, and vegetarians should pay special attention to these nutrients.
Some suggest that vegetarians have higher rates of deficiencies in those nutrients that are found in high concentrations in meat. However, studies endorsed by the ADA found that this was not the case for either iron or calcium. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D from vegetarian sources other than dairy products and eggs are not readily absorbed by the body and a vegan diet usually needs supplements. These nutrients are now commonly supplemented in milks and cereals in the western world, and are not necessarily a problem in a vegetarian diet
I have also been a vegetarian for 9 years. Go Veggie! Here are some ways to get your iron: beans, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, and baked beans), soybeans and tofu, dried fruit (raisins and figs), broccoli, spinach, and blackstrap molasses. Taking vitamin C (or drinking orange juice, etc) as you eat these will also help your body absorb the iron.
I am no longer a vegetarian but I wanted to contribute to your post about this. When I was trying to be a veggie I was doing it incorrectly and I had an experience where I literally fell asleep in the middle of a conversation. I don't have narcolepsy, but I was so malnourished (and not getting enough iron) that weird things started to happen. Now that I'm older and understand that there are resources to go to - a nutritionist, finding appropriate information online, talking to a healthy vegetarian - that wouldn't happen if I went the veggie route again. However, it did creep up suddenly, so I think it's good you're considering the problem before it starts.
For fun, I went to the Mayo Clinic online to learn more about anemia and found this fun fact - when you are suffering from iron deficiency invoked anemia, you can experience symptoms like brittle nails, tongue inflammation and (this is my favorite) - "Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or pure starch." How weird is that? So, if you start wanting to eat a box of starch or chewing pieces of the sandbox, get thee to a nutritionist - stat!
I heard that cooking in a good "raw" cast iron skillet can contribute iron to your diet. I like this concept and have chosen to believe it, even though I don't know how true it is or how much iron could possibly by gleamed from this method. Seems negligible, but who knows! There are so many other great benefits to cooking with a good cast iron pan that you might as well start using yours (or get one!). By the way, does anyone know if this is really a source of iron worth thinking about?
Iron from a skillet immediately formed this picture in my head of huge flakes on the pan flaking off and topping your food like parsley. haha. ::shiver:: I get most of my iron from tons of spinach and nuts. Although this helps, it is a must for me personally to take supplements. When I read labels, I notice that there are small amounts of iron in little things, like even in real maple syrup.. so I think that adds up as well.
Remember that most anemia is linked to either B vitamin or folic acid deficiency, and supplementing these things will help immensely. An easy way to find out if you suffer from this is to have a blood test done.
Eat masses of organic spinach. Spinach has loads of iron...much more digestible than meat. Make a spinach salad that includes other greens like finely chopped broccoli or brussels sprouts (other iron dense foods). Top with olive oil and fresh lemon juice...delicious!
Do you eat eggs? They are a good source of iron. It's really hard to get enough iron as a vegetarian, since the iron in vegetables isn't absorbed well at all. If you don't eat meat or fish, you need to eat beans, soy, or peanuts most meals to get iron. Include some fruit or vegetable to get vitamin C that will help you absorb more of the iron. Don't drink tea with meals, because that will keep you from absorbing iron. And, don't take too much calcium, because that will also prevent iron aborption. You can always take an inexpensive and safe supplement, like the iron from Nature Made, sold at Long's Drugstore.
I've been a veggie for 24 years, and have battled anemia throughout...primarily because I dislike spinach, egg yolks, milk, and most other things folks suggest. So, I've been taking supplements for years, but also do my best to eat raisins, bananas and asparagus whenever I can, because they are iron and b12 heavy. Find the b-12 and iron stuff you like, keep lots of it around, and take your supplements. Really. The fatigue isn't worth trying to stay away from vitamins!
i am 14 and i have been a vegetarian my whole life. I had a really bad dose of anaemia when i was younger because i wasn't getting enough iron but later on as i grew up it slowly faded away.
Green leafy vegetables
Fish-clams, muscels (if you like fish)
Bread, some cereals, pasta and rice
These really help. Go the veggie's, i have never found it hard being a vegetarian because i have never tried meat, not even fish, it does not interest me at all. So keep going and if symptoms persist go see ur local GP or a nutritioist.
I went to a nutristioist and it really help. Like is Suz w case she found it difficult because there was not alot she could have. If you see a nutritionust they will be able to set you up and iron riched diet with the foods you love, that is what they did for me. But they are a bit pricy so be sure to save up!!!