Dietary Iron Absorption

Hello all!

Mana here. It’s been a tough week. I’m so glad it’s almost Friday!

As promised, I’ll be telling you about an important nutrient combination. One of the most common questions I get is, how do vegetarians and vegans get sufficient iron? Considering the main source of iron is meat.

Here’s the thing. There are two types of dietary iron. Heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is is the type of iron that’s found in animal meat, and it gets absorbed by the body more readily. Red meat, poultry, fish and other seafood are great sources of heme iron. On the other hand, non-heme iron is the type of dietary iron available in plant based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Non-heme iron is also in eggs and dairy.

Foods like soybeans, lentils, kale and spinach are great sources of non-heme iron. The problem with non-heme iron is that a very small percentage of it gets absorbed by the body. However, research suggests that adding vitamin C to non-heme iron sources makes the absorption of the iron exponentially higher.

Weather you are a vegan, vegetarian, or follow any other diet, you can use this information to your advantage. When making a salad with spinach or kale, you can add lime or lemon juice as seasoning to make it tasty as well as making the iron absorb much more efficiently by your body. You can also add slices of orange to your salad, or slices of strawberries. One of my personal favourites is having a bowl of lentils and boiled potatoes for dinner, with lots of lime juice and olive oil in it. It has a soup-like consistency, but it’s extremely filling and nutritious! Yum!

One last important thing to keep in mind is to avoid drinking hot beveages within 30 minutes after an iron-rich meal. Hot water inhibits the absorption of both heme and non-heme iron. Please make sure you time yourself from the moment you finish eating until 30 minutes after, no tea, coffee or hot water.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog. I’ll be coming back on Tuesday with more.

Have a great weekend everyone! See you later