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How do vegans get iron?
(Wellington, New Zealand)
I am just going vegan and my main source of iron at the moment is vegemite and baked beans. Is there any better way for me to get iron?
That's a great question. Many vegans worry about getting enough of the correct nutrients in their diet, including iron. Some of these fears are based in old wives tales and legends about what might be lacking in the vegan diet. Actually, most people don't know that humans do need to be careful not to ingest too much iron as it can actually be dangerous, but it's important to get just enough.
Pregnant women are typically the ones who are highest risk for developing iron deficiencies, so they should ensure they get plenty of vegan iron-rich foods.
Great sources of vegan iron are whole grains, beans, tofu, and dark green leafy vegetables. You should also eat plenty of vegetables and fruits high in vitamin C, like leafy greens, peppers, citrus fruits, potatoes, melons, and tomatoes, which help the iron to be absorbed in the body.
For anyone who isn't familiar with vegemite, but its flavor takes some getting used to! I've heard people apply it to sandwiches much like Americans use peanut butter, but I bet the flavor of beans can really be impacted by some vegemite.
Vegemite is a rich source of nutrition. It's full of B vitamins and folate, as well as thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. These nutrients help maintain healthy skin, healthy digestive tracts, produce healthy red blood cells, create energy in the body, as well as aiding proper nervous system, brain, and muscle function.
So, to answer your question, yes, you are getting good sources of vegan iron from both the vegemite and the beans. I would also add more leafy greens and whole grains, as well as foods high in vitamin C. Leafy greens are a vegan's best friend, and luckily they taste amazing with beans.