A Simple Guide to Vegan Iron and the Best Vegan Iron Supplementation Plus Iron-Rich Foods to Eat
Iron is not talked about enough in the vegan community. Did you know that iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the world? Iron deficiency was once the hottest debate in veganism before the protein deficiency debate took over in recent years.
Why? Iron is essential for the human body. It is a crucial mineral that helps your body to transport oxygen throughout your entire body.
A lack of iron means the body struggles to create enough healthy oxygen-carrying blood cells. This can lead to anemia.
Those who follow a well-planned vegan diet can get all the iron they need from their food. The levels of iron required differ greatly depending on whether you’re a man or a woman.
Supplementation can help ensure you get the right levels of iron to stay healthy. This simple guide to vegan iron will explain why you need iron, how much you need, the iron-rich foods to eat, and the best iron supplementation you can buy.
First, I take a look at the best vegan iron supplements on your market. Each of these products has been carefully selected based on quality, research, brand reliability, bioavailability, and reviews.
The Top 10 Vegan Iron Supplements
Garden of Life is a well-known and respected brand within the vegan community. Many of their products are popular among vegans for their quality and effectiveness.
This iron complex is my top choice for a vegan iron supplement. Garden of Life has mixed 22mg of raw iron with a list of other cofactors that support the absorption and utilization of iron in the body.
The product has a good level of purity, is reasonably priced, and is guaranteed to give you a little extra than your average iron supplement. This has become the standard for all Garden of Life products.
You get some extras, including B12, Vitamin C, and Folate, which help to aid the absorption of iron in the body. It comes at a reasonable price of just $13, is Vegan certified, non-constipating, and non-GMO certified.
EZ Melts comes in the form of Carbonyl Iron. This is one of only a few iron supplements that does and is important as Carbonyl Iron is the most absorbable form of iron around.
EZ Melts are fast dissolving tablets that taste good and are much easier on the stomach than other iron supplements. The tablets are only small, so they’re easy to swallow. The product is made in the US, FDA-Approved, and third-party tested for purity, safety, and potency.
The tablets have been specially formulated with Vitamin C to enhance absorption. EZ melts are one of the best Iron: Vitamin C ratios you will come across.
Each tablet gives you 18mg of iron and 30mg of Vitamin C. The product is 100% Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and Non-GMO. There are no nasty synthetic ingredients either!
I love the MegaFood brand because they’re quality-obsessed when it comes to their products. This iron supplement is certified non-GMO, glyphosate residue-free, tested for herbicides and pesticides, gluten-free, and vegan. That’s a lot of certifications!
The Blood Builder Minis are mini tablets packed with 26mg of iron and supported with whole foods such as beets and organic oranges. You also get a healthy dose of Vitamin C, B12, and folic acid to increase and support absorption.
This is a high-quality vegan iron supplement that is gentle on the stomach and has none of the common gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea or constipation.
You have probably heard of the brand Solgar before. They’re one of the most popular supplement brands on the planet and for a good reason. Solgar creates high-quality and effective supplements at a reasonable price.
These gentle iron capsules contain 25mg of iron and are free of sugar, common allergens, preservatives, and nasty synthetic ingredients.
The capsules are stomach-friendly using iron bis-glycinate. This is a unique form of chelated iron capable of giving you maximum absorption without giving you the common belly issues associated with iron supplementation.
I love the packaging of PlantFusion products, and I equally like the quality. This is a top-notch iron supplement from a vegan brand (which I want to support whenever I can). PlantFusion has created a simple but effective iron supplement with minimal ingredients.
You get 25mg of iron plus B12 and Folate to help increase absorption and utilization. The capsules are made using cellulose and silica with none of the nasty synthetic ingredients.
What makes PlantFusion unique is the use of a patented Ferrochel Chelated Iron, which has been created to make it easier to digest, making your belly more comfortable.
It is also free of sugar, dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.
If you hate swallowing pills and capsules, then VitaRaw have you covered. These vegan iron gummies are the perfect alternative in a tasty grape-flavored chewable form.
Read more: TOP-12 Best Vegan Gummy Bears
Each gummy provided 10mg of iron, including a dose of B12, Vitamin C, Folic Acid, and Zinc. They’re completely vegan and do not contain gelatin.
Each bottle gives you a 45 day supply of iron and is suitable for men, women, and children. They‘re especially good for children who hate swallowing pills and would rather chew on something fruity.
To top it all off, VitaRaw Iron Gummies are all-natural, contain Non-GMO ingredients, no artificial colors, or preservatives.
Deva is a well-known and popular brand within the vegan community. It’s even fully certified by the Vegan Society themselves.
You get 29mg of iron in each serving along with added B12. You get five times your daily intake for B12, so you can start worrying less about getting your B12 each day.
Each bottle gives you a three-month supply and is suitable for all ages. I like Deva products because they’re reliable and always top quality.
Deva Vegan Chelated Iron is also one of the cheaper products on this list at just $9 per bottle.
Another vegan brand that deserves your support, VegLife is becoming more and more popular for its quality supplements. Each serving provided 25mg of iron, and a dose of B6, B12, and folic acid.
All the ingredients are certified vegan, and customers claim that they do not get an upset stomach when taking this supplement. You also get a 60-day money-back guarantee, which will give you some buying confidence.
Each bottle contains a 100 day supply of iron. This is a top product from a vegan brand making waves in the supplement industry.
We’ve had tablets, pills, and gummies, so now it’s time for liquid form iron supplement. Floravital Iron + Herbs from Floradix is one of the best-selling liquid supplements in the USA.
The brand guarantees that their product will not give you constipation, just a quality dose of iron for good health. They use ferrous gluconate for a gentle and fast-absorbing effect.
Floradix markets this product specifically to women, but men can use it also. Floradix claims that this liquid supplement is perfect for “expectant, pregnant, nursing, lactating, menstruating, and athletic women! ”
Floravital contains 100% natural ingredients that are yeast-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO. There are no artificial colors, flavorings, or synthetic ingredients.
I love this product because you also get a healthy dose of B6 (90%), B12 (110%), and Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B1, and B2.
California Gold Nutrition is another top brand that is well-known and reputable. These iron veggie capsules are perfect for vegans to get a healthy dose (36mg) of iron.
The supplement is made with Ferrochel® Ferrous Bisglycinate Chelate, which is designed to quickly absorb and gently on the stomach.
You won’t find any gluten, soy, or GMO ingredients here. Many reviewers say their iron levels quickly improved after just a few weeks of taking this supplement.
How Much Iron Do I Need?
According to the NIH, adult men need 8mg of iron per day, and adult women need 18mg per day. All adults older than 51 years need 8mg per day. The full list of recommendations is below:
- Birth to 6 months – 0.27mg
- Infants 7–12 months – 11mg
- Children 1–3 years – 7mg
- Children 4–8 years – 10mg
- Children 9–13 years – 8mg
- Teens boys 14–18 years – 11mg
- Teens girls 14–18 years – 15mg
- Adult men 19–50 years – 8mg
- Adult women 19–50 years – 18mg
- Adults 51 years and older – 8mg
- Pregnant teens – 27mg
- Pregnant women – 27mg
- Breastfeeding teens – 10mg
- Breastfeeding women – 9mg
Those most vulnerable to iron deficiency are teen girls and women with heavy periods, pregnant teens and women, infants, frequent blood donors, and those with health issues such as:
- Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
- Heart failure
Iron Upper Limits and Toxicity
If you take too much iron, it can become hazardous for your health. It is essential to make sure you understand your RDA, follow the recommended doses, and not supplement it too much.
The “upper limit” is the maximum dose you should take. For iron, the upper limits are as follows:
- Birth to 12 months – 40mg
- Children 1–13 years – 40mg
- Teens 14–18 years – 45mg
- Adults 19+ years – 45mg
If you exceed these upper limits, you risk iron toxicity which can lead to:
- An upset stomach (if taken on an empty stomach)
- Abdominal pain
- A decrease in your zinc absorption rates
- Organ failure, coma, convulsions, and death (extremely high doses)
Anemia develops when the iron is deficient. Your red blood cells will become smaller, carrying less oxygen throughout your body. Anemia is much more common than you think. In fact, iron is one of the most common deficiencies on the planet.
The common symptoms of anemia include:
- GI upset
- Lack of energy
- Problems with concentration and memory
If you think you may have an iron deficiency and notice these symptoms, seek medical advice ASAP.
Things to Consider When Buying a Vegan Iron Supplement
If you want to make sure you’re buying the best vegan iron supplement possible, there are few things to consider first.
The bottle or packet should clearly label the iron dosage per serving. This is typically between 15-28mg per serving. It’s essential to consider the amount of iron in each meal plus what you may be getting from food. You don’t want to exceed the upper limit discussed above.
The most common issue when taking too much iron is constipation. If you develop constipation, you need to reconsider your dosage.
Try choosing an iron supplement that splits out your iron dosage over more than one tablet or capsule. Always take with food to avoid GI issues.
Cofactors are ingredients added to a supplement to enhance the primary ingredient. In this case, iron is the primary ingredient, and the main cofactors you want to look out for include B12, Vitamin C, and Folate. Each helps boost the absorption rate of the iron.
You can also find iron supplements that include cofactors like whole food extracts and even probiotics (such as Garden of Life).
The Best Forms of Iron
Some iron supplements come in various types of iron, such as:
- Ferrous Salt
- Carbonyl Iron – highly absorbable
- Iron Bisglycinate – stomach-friendly
- Chelated Iron – chemically altered to safely pass through the digestive system without breaking apart
All of these forms of iron are safe to take. Some have just slightly altered for various benefits. The best type of iron for absorption is ferrous salt forms, which include ferric, ferrous, and carbonyl.
Do Vegans Need an Iron Supplement?
It really depends on your vegan diet. Getting enough iron through plant foods can be challenging, so some vegan men and women develop iron deficiencies.
Your diet should include iron-rich foods such as:
- Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli
- Nuts, like almonds and cashews
- Sunflower seeds
- Wholegrain cereals
If you’re not consistently eating these foods in your diet, you may want to consider taking an iron supplement. Before choosing an iron supplement, it’s worth consulting your doctor and getting your iron levels tested.
There is no point in taking an iron supplement if you already get enough iron in your vegan diet.
The best thing to do is talk to your doctor to understand whether iron supplementation is necessary. This way you can be sure that you are safely taking the right amount.
You must make sure you don’t take too much iron. You can quickly develop serious health issues if you fail to take iron responsibly.
If you agree with a health professional that you need iron supplementation, the best vegan iron supplement on the market right now is Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron.