How to improve iron levels on a plant based diet
Iron is an essential mineral for our bodies to function optimally, to be energised, for a healthy immune system and to transport to and store oxygen in our muscles. It’s a trace mineral literally found in every cell in our body. Yet one of the main deficiencies present in our society is iron. Iron deficiency can be prevalent in vegetarian and vegan diets, during pregnancy and reproductive years and in children with inadequate nutrition in their diet.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency may include:
- fatigue and lack of energy
- weakness and dizziness
- pale skin and dark circles under eyes
- poor concentration
Ensuring you keep on top of your iron levels, in particular with a vegetarian and vegan diet, to reduce your risk of iron deficiency is key and can be relatively simple by including a variety of iron rich foods in the diet each day, and, learning to combine them with foods that improve the uptake of iron into the body and at a cellular level.
Iron rich foods you can consider increasing include:
- raw spinach
- dark chocolate
- black beans
- cashew nuts
- dried apricots
- beetroot greens
Iron and vitamin C are synergistic nutrients, working to support and improve cellular uptake of minerals such as iron. To improve the uptake of plant based, non-haem iron, combine these foods (above) with foods containing Vitamin C including lemon, oranges, spinach, grapefruit and red capsicum.
If you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency, please ensure you see your health care professional or doctor for blood tests and work closely with them on an supplementation protocol to improve iron status. Do not self prescribe.