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The Importance of Iron in a Plant-Based Diet


Iron is a vital nutrient that is essential for the proper functioning of our bodies. It is important for many biological processes such as oxygen transport, energy production, and immune system function. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue, weakness, and impaired cognitive function. While many people associate iron with meat-based diets, it is also an important nutrient in a plant-based diet.


Plant-based foods that are high in iron include legumes, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Although the iron in plant-based foods is less readily absorbed than the iron in animal products, there are ways to enhance absorption. For example, consuming vitamin C-rich foods alongside iron-rich foods can increase absorption. Additionally, cooking with cast iron pans can increase the iron content of foods.


Iron is especially important for vegetarians and vegans, who may be at a higher risk of iron deficiency due to the absence of heme iron found in meat. However, with careful planning, it is possible to get enough iron on a plant-based diet. For example, a meal that includes lentils, spinach, and bell peppers provides a good source of both iron and vitamin C.


There are also many plant-based foods that are fortified with iron, such as breakfast cereals and plant-based milks. However, it is important to read labels carefully and choose products that are fortified with non-heme iron, which is the form of iron found in plant-based foods.


Iron is an essential nutrient that is important for everyone, regardless of their dietary choices. While it is possible to get enough iron on a plant-based diet, it is important to be mindful of sources and to take steps to enhance absorption. By incorporating a variety of iron-rich plant foods into your diet and consuming them alongside vitamin C-rich foods, you can ensure that you are meeting your iron needs on a plant-based diet.


You will find iron in a variety of Rebel Food Company products, like the Triple Chocolate Walnut Cookie.




Photo by Nick Fewings References:

Mangels, R., & Messina, V. (2011). Considerations in planning vegan diets: Children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(6), 772-778.

Haas, J. D., & Brownlie, T. (2001). Iron deficiency and reduced work capacity: A critical review of the research to determine a causal relationship. Journal of Nutrition, 131(2S-2), 676S-688S.

National Institutes of Health. (2021). Iron. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/

Lynch, S. R., & Cook, J. D. (2000). Interaction between iron and other nutrients. In G. J. Lyman & H. R. LaBonte (Eds.), Nutritional Anemias (pp. 87-122). CRC Press.

Tako, E., & Glahn, R. P. (2015). Iron biofortification of staple crops: Lessons learned and new challenges. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(36), 8128-8134.

Allen, L. H. (2009). How common is vitamin B-12 deficiency? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(2), 693S-696S.

National Institutes of Health. (2021). Vitamin C. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/



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