You have probably heard about anemia vegan people tend to suffer from due to inadequate amounts of iron from their diet.
It is not unusual for these people to suffer from poor iron levels, especially if they are not consuming enough vegetables high in iron for anemia.
Fortunately, this is a medical condition that you can easily prevent as a vegan. By knowing the best foods to eat that will supply your body with enough iron, anemia should be the least of your worries. Let’s have a look at these vegetables that you need to include in your diet today – and everyday – as a vegan.
Vegetarian Anemia – What You Should Know
First of all, it is important to understand why anemia happens to vegans and vegetarians.
Iron comes in two types – non heme and heme. You can get heme iron from animal products such as liver and beef. On the other hand, non-heme iron is widely available in vegetables. Unfortunately, the latter is not absorbed easily by the body.
When your body receives a low level of iron, this limits its ability to produce more hemoglobin, which carries oxygen and binds into your blood. As a result, you tend to experience anemia symptoms such as faintness, lightheadedness, fatigue, lethargy, thinning of hair, and general weakness.
Since vegans do not receive heme iron, they can only rely on non-heme iron sources, which are present in certain vegetables and foods.
Foods High In Iron For Anemia
With all these things in mind, let us talk about the foods you need to eat as a vegan to prevent anemia. In a nutshell, here are some of the highest sources of non-heme iron:
- Whole wheat breads
- Cooked mushrooms
- Steamed spinach
But it’s not just all about eating iron-rich foods to avoid the dreaded anemia vegan folks tend to suffer from (at least some of them).
So in addition to consuming these foods and vegetables high in iron, you need to incorporate vitamin C-rich foods that help your body to efficiently absorb iron from your diet. Among the best ones to eat are the following:
- Citrus fruits
- Green or red bell pepper
Moreover, you might want to take it easy on certain foods and drinks that prevent iron absorption. These are:
- Tea and coffee (even decaf ones)
- Dairy products
- Calcium supplements
- Beer and liquor
- Foods packed with dietary fiber
Getting More Iron In The Body
Basically, your diet has a massive impact on your decreased risk of getting anemia as a vegan. But did you know that even your cookware may be able to help you prevent anemia? Well, in combination with the right foods, of course.
In fact, Christopher Charles, PhD, along with his colleagues conducted a study on how to treat anemia due to iron deficiency. They investigated certain ways to help people in Cambodia who were suffering from this type of anemia. The answer? A special iron to use in their cooking pots.
Charles and his team made fish-shaped iron ingots, which were then placed in the locals’ cooking pots as a means of supplementing their bodies with iron. Coincidentally, fish also symbolizes happiness, health, and luck, according to Cambodian folklore.
Today, there are various cast iron pots and pans that are designed to transmit this important mineral to your food as it cooks. This is another reason to ditch your old cookware for one that can provide additional benefit to your body.
Plus, there are iron supplements that you can conveniently take to further increase the iron reserves in your body. These are not only cheap and convenient but they can increase your iron levels if you are suffering from a mild case of iron deficiency anemia.
Iron is an important mineral for every stage of life. For adults between 19 and 50 years of age, they need the following amount of iron to prevent such deficiencies:
Women – 18 milligrams
Pregnant Women – 27 milligrams
Nursing Women – 9 milligrams
Men – 8 milligrams
For the most part, women should take more iron because of the amount they lose during their menstrual cycles. But as they enter menopause, they need to shoot for at least 8 milligrams of iron.
Aside from adults, kids need iron just as much. This mineral helps to support their maximum growth and development.
From age 0 to 6 months, the recommended iron level is 0.27 milligrams. Then, it goes up over time:
7 milligrams for kids 1 to 3 years
10 milligrams for kids 4 to 8 years
8 milligrams for 9 to 13 years
Males between 14 and 18 years of age need 11 milligrams of iron while it is 15 milligrams for females in the same age bracket.
Additional Information On Anemia In Vegans
If you are not getting enough iron from your diet, you may be wondering whether taking iron supplements is a good idea or not.
The thing is that vegetables and other foods rich in iron should give you more than enough of this mineral. However, if you are a vegan, you need to consume more vegetables high in iron such as dark leafy greens, mushrooms, and legumes to supply your body with iron.
In addition to these non-heme iron food sources, you need foods rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin C to promote better absorption of this mineral. Foods to eat include sweet potatoes, squash, red peppers, potatoes, oranges, peaches, apricots, kale, and spinach.
As much as possible, limit your intake of calcium-rich foods that tend to reduce iron absorption.
And lastly, it is best to consult your doctor if you require an iron supplement and what milligrams would be ideal for your condition.
With all these things in mind, you can prevent anemia as a vegan and ensure your optimum health in this type of diet or lifestyle.