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Plant Based Iron Sources (8 natural Iron rich foods)

Published: 25/05/2021 by Samuel Anthony
Iron rich cacao bar plant based source

Ever wondered how to get sufficient iron following a plant based diet? Did you know the impact certain foods can have on reducing/boosting iron uptake? Find out exactly how much you should need and how you can easily get iron from natural, high iron whole food sources.

Daily recommended requirements for iron intake

Both over and under-consumption of iron has noticeable effects on human physiology [1]

The amount of iron required per day depends greatly on the individual's needs. Pregnancy, age, gender, and the menopause affect your recommended intake. [2]

Men (all ages*) 8mg iron per day [3]

Women (pre-menopausal) 18mg iron per day [3]

Women (post-menopausal) 8mg iron per day [3]

*advice is for adults, and those ages 9-13. Boys 14-18 may benefit from an RDI of 11mg per day. [2]

The upper limit for daily iron intake sits at around 45mg iron per day 'based on gastrointestinal distress as an adverse effect'. [3]

Why do we need iron?

Iron is essential (not made by the body, relying on external sources) and assists multiple metabolic functions in the human body - from transporting oxygen as a component of haemoglobin [4], to synthesising our DNA.

According to National Institutes of Health 'iron is also necessary for physical growth, neurological development, cellular functioning, and synthesis of some hormones' [4].

White soybeans pictured as an example of a plant-based iron rich food source.

Vitamin C and Iron Absorption

"Ascorbic acid is a powerful enhancer of nonheme iron absorption and can reverse the inhibiting effect of such substances as tea and calcium/phosphate." [5]

Translation: vitamin c (ascorbic acid) significantly increases the absorption of non-animal-based-iron (nonheme).

Additionally, where tea, calcium and phosphate can reduce absorption, vitamin c can begin to reverse this.

A vibrant collection of bright red tomaotes, squashes and marrows to show that WFPB iron sources are more common than once thought.

Plant Based Whole Food Iron Sources

Per 100g:

Cacao Iron: 36mg

Soybeans Iron: 16mg Vitamin C: 17mg

Lentils Iron: 3mg Vitamin C: 4mg

Chickpeas Iron: 3mg Vitamin C: 4mg

Asparagus Iron: 2mg Vitamin C: 25mg

Broccoli Iron: 0.7mg Vitamin C: 90mg

Spinach Iron: 3mg Vitamin C: 28mg

White Mushrooms Iron: 2mg Vitamin C: 4mg

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