Making a Few Adjustments to Your Food Combinations Can Eliminate An Iron Deficiency
One of my best friends is a vegetarian. She had serious issues with anemia and didn’t know exactly what was causing it. When she got to the bottom of the issue, she found it was two-fold, but one of the causes was because of her diet.
One common issue that vegans and vegetarians face on a plant-based diet is experiencing an iron deficiency.
If you have been feeling tired or fatigue, light-headedness, or cold all the time, you might be experiencing an iron deficiency.
You may already know that all plants are not created equal but maybe you haven’t pinned down the exact food choices that will overcome an iron deficiency.
The best way for vegetarians to overcome an iron deficiency is to be sure to combine their “nonheme” iron-rich foods with Vitamin C rich foods at every meal.
Being able to identify if this the problem is the first step, then learning what to do to remedy is the second.
So first let me help you to understand how an iron deficiency can creep into a vegetarian diet and then give you a solutions.
Dietary iron has two main forms: heme and nonheme. Animal foods such as meat, poultry, and fish contain both heme and nonheme iron, whereas plants and fortified foods contain nonheme iron only.
Unfortunately for us vegetarians, nonheme iron is not absorbed as readily by the body as heme iron is. Additionally, many plant foods contain compounds, such as phyates and polyphenols, that actually interfere with iron absorption. Because of this, the recommended daily intake of dietary iron can be up to 1.8 times higher for vegetarians than for people who eat meat. Calcium from milk or dairy products can also decrease the amount of iron absorbed at a meal. But, foods containing vitamin C can enhance absorption of nonheme iron when eaten at the same meal.
For most people who eat a balanced diet, these issues of increasing or decreasing absorption are a non-issue. Vegetarians need to pay a bit more attention since we don’t consume easily absorbed heme iron, and many of the foods we eat contain compounds that impede the absorption of nonheme iron.
Good vegetarian food sources of iron include:
- dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and bok choy
- soy products such as tempeh and tofu
- blackstrap molasses
- pumpkin seeds
- wheat germ
Dried fruits can also be a good source as they are often dried in iron pans, and cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes in cast-iron cookware increases iron content of the food.
Also good news for vegetarians is the fact that many of those iron-rich foods, such as broccoli and bok choy, are rich in vitamin C. Otherwise, pairing foods at the same meal, such as a spinach salad with slices of orange, helps with the absorption of nonheme iron.
So the take-away for vegetarians and vegans to remember is as long as you eat iron rich foods in combination with Vitamin C then you will have no iron deficiency issue.
This the quickest and simplest way to overcome and even ward off this common condition.
(Image and Article Source: http://ohmyveggies.com/iron-what-every-vegetarian-should-know/)