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Many commonly eaten plant based foods are high in iron. In fact, some of the top iron sources are vegan. So why are vegan and vegetarian diets dismissed by disapproving omnivores as “anemic?” Not understanding the science behind nutrition is what leads to common misconceptions in plant based diets. So let’s set things straight: Iron is an essential nutrient because it helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to the body. However, taking too much iron can result in iron overload. Excess iron can lead to a number of complications, so it’s important to keep track of your intake. There are two types of iron: 1⃣ Heme iron, which is found in animals (meat, poultry, and fish)  2⃣ Non-heme iron, which is from plants.
Heme iron is better absorbed than non-heme iron. However, it is easier to overload on heme iron than non-heme iron. Interestingly enough, vegans and vegetarians are no more likely to become anemic than an omnivore. There’s also evidence that shows that low-normal iron (which is what vegans and vegetarians store) are actually beneficial and lower rates of heart disease and cancer.  Now that we know vegan iron is non-heme iron, it’s just as (if not more) important to focus on iron absorption than to just eat a lot of iron rich foods.
Here are some tips:
1⃣ Combine Vegan (non-heme) iron foods with foods rich in Vitamin C. Even better is to eat foods that are rich in both iron and Vitamin C like leafy greens, broccoli, and tomato sauce. 2⃣ Avoid hefty meals and eat smaller amounts throughout the day to maximize absorption.  3⃣ Avoid absorption inhibitors like coffee and tea 1-2 hours before and/or after a meal.  Sadly, spinach which is very high in iron, also contains oxalates that block absorption. That is why it spinach did not make this list. Regardless, Popeye The Sailor Man is still a badass. #VegansofIG

Many commonly eaten plant based foods are high in iron. In fact, some of the top iron sources are vegan. So why are vegan and vegetarian diets dismissed by disapproving omnivores as “anemic?” Not understanding the science behind nutrition is what leads to common misconceptions in plant based diets. So let’s set things straight:

Iron is an essential nutrient because it helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to the body. However, taking too much iron can result in iron overload. Excess iron can lead to a number of complications, so it’s important to keep track of your intake.

There are two types of iron:
1⃣ Heme iron, which is found in animals (meat, poultry, and fish)
2⃣ Non-heme iron, which is from plants.

Heme iron is better absorbed than non-heme iron. However, it is easier to overload on heme iron than non-heme iron. Interestingly enough, vegans and vegetarians are no more likely to become anemic than an omnivore. There’s also evidence that shows that low-normal iron (which is what vegans and vegetarians store) are actually beneficial and lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

Now that we know vegan iron is non-heme iron, it’s just as (if not more) important to focus on iron absorption than to just eat a lot of iron rich foods.

Here are some tips:

1⃣ Combine Vegan (non-heme) iron foods with foods rich in Vitamin C. Even better is to eat foods that are rich in both iron and Vitamin C like leafy greens, broccoli, and tomato sauce.
2⃣ Avoid hefty meals and eat smaller amounts throughout the day to maximize absorption.
3⃣ Avoid absorption inhibitors like coffee and tea 1-2 hours before and/or after a meal.

Sadly, spinach which is very high in iron, also contains oxalates that block absorption. That is why it spinach did not make this list. Regardless, Popeye The Sailor Man is still a badass. #VegansofIG

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