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Top 10 Vegetarian Sources Of Iron

Posted Sep 22 2008 11:05am

I’ve been thinking lately of iron, as it pertains to the vegetarian diet. The reason i’ve been thinking about this, is because i read (not too long ago) on a vegetarian nutrition blog, that IRON is best absorbed when combined with another food item.

Spinach (Iron) and Tomato (Vitamin C) Salad

Image Source: Spring 3D

But not just any food item, foods rich in Vitamin C. Actually i had forgotten this important tidbit, and was freaking out because i thought i was placing myself in danger of anemia. Anemia is the condition one gets, when they are low in iron.

Did You Know, There Are 2 Different Types of Iron? Hemi Vs. Non-Hemi

So i did some research (a/k/a went to Google) and found the missing piece of the iron puzzle. Basically there are two different forms of iron, heme and non-hemi. The former is derived from animal based food, and the latter is obtained from plant based foods.

Let’s Talk About Iron and Absorption

The non-hemi type of iron, which is the vegetarian type, is not absorbed as well as the animal based type, without some help. Taken straight from the Vegetarian Resource Group page on Iron, they state the following:

Consuming foods rich in vitamin C at the same meal enhances non-heme iron absorption.

Are Vegetarians Prone To Iron Deficiency?

So although one needs to supplement when trying to fully absorb iron, vegetarians ARE NOT more (or less) prone to Anemia. Again it always comes down to proper nutrition research. If one chooses to become savvy about the ingredients and the nutrients in the foods they eat, they will be and stay healthy. This applies to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

So without further ado. I realize that was quite an introduction to the list post, but i feel it might help someone, as it did me.

Top 10 Vegetarian Sources Of Iron

10.) Swiss Chard, cooked

9.) Lima Beans, cooked

8.) Tempeh

7.) Bagel, enriched

6.) Tofu

5.) Quinoa, cooked

4.) Spinach, cooked

3.) Lentils, cooked

2.) Blackstrap Molasses

and the number #1 source of vegetarian iron, based on milligrams is: (drum roll please)

1.) Soybeans, cooked - 8.8 mg

What Is The Daily RDA For Iron For Vegetarians?

For women who are pre-menopausal it is 33 mg, and for men it is 14 mg. For women who are post-menopausal it is 14 mg.

Conclusion and Final Summary

So in conclusion vegetarians need to be mindful of eating foods rich in Vitamin C to fully (or better) absorb Iron. For a menu that is Iron rich, visit the Vegetarian Resource Group Iron For Vegans page.

There are many plant based sources of Iron, and the RDA for young women is 33 mg daily, and for men it is 14 mg daily.

Reader Question

What are some of YOUR fave food pairings that are both rich in Iron and Vitamin C? Please share them below and let’s help those who might be having the same questions or concerns.

Source: VRG

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