Just   back   from   my   yearly   physical…

As it turns out, I’m slightly anemic – the iron deficient kind. Ha! Even dietitians can have nutrient deficiencies.⠀

Got me thinking about iron. When you follow a mostly plant-based diet, can you get enough? Short answer is yes, but with a little extra effort. ⠀

Here are the facts:⠀

  • Iron is essential to the human body and we lose some every day through skin, sweat, waste and monthly through menstruation.⠀
  • Iron-deficiency anemia is more common in women than men.⠀
  • Symptoms include fatigue, irritability, reduced appetite and light-headedness. Long term risks are more serious.⠀
  • There are actually two kinds of iron – heme iron (the kind found in animal foods) and non-heme, the kind found in plant foods which is harder to digest and absorb.⠀
  • This is why – note to self — women who follow a more plant-based diet need to eat almost twice as much iron as everyone else (roughly 32 mg/day per day for women ages 19 – 50, and 14 mg/day for women ages 51 and older).⠀
  • The highest non-heme iron sources include fortified breakfast cereals and white beans (hooray for cannellini beans!!) Other good sources include lentils, tomatoes, spinach, tofu, beans, legumes and cashews.⠀
  • Calcium supplements can hinder iron absorption. If you take them, be sure not to exceed the recommended daily amount and if you are diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, be sure to speak with your doctor about potentially changing up your supplement regime. ⠀
  • Vitamin C helps improve iron absorption! Pair your non-heme iron sources with a food that’s high in vitamin C. Luckily, this is easy to do since so many of these combos taste great. Like citrus fruit over a spinach salad and vegetarian chili with tomatoes and beans.⠀

I’m gonna go start following my own advice now. Do you have questions about iron? Ask away!⠀

Cheers and warmest wishes for good health,

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