The Best Vegan Iron Supplement to Complement a Vegan Diet

Article at a Glance:

  • While a vegan diet can be a very healthy choice, you may be lacking iron and other key nutrients crucial to maintaining your good health.
  • Why do you need iron? Learn how iron is crucial to your health. 
  • Discover why your vegan diet may not be giving you all the iron that you need, and why supplementing with a vegan iron source may be the answer.
  • Can you find a vegan multivitamin that gives you iron and everything else you need? Which one is best for you?

Living a vegan lifestyle can offer you wonderful health benefits, like heart health, weight management, and it may even help to reduce your risk of certain types of cancers. [1] 

However, vegan diets may also lack certain nutrients that are critical to our good health. Most of us do not get adequate amounts of all the vitamins and minerals that we need on a daily basis, and this can be especially true for people adhering to a vegan diet. Without adding a vegan multivitamin, it can be challenging for anyone living a vegan lifestyle to get the RDI (recommended daily intake) of every key vitamin and mineral that their body needs from a plant-based diet alone. 

Many of us who are eating a vegan diet already know that iron is one of several key nutrients that we are often deficient in while maintaining a plant-based lifestyle, but did you know that we may also be lacking several other important micronutrients? Vegans may need to include more vitamins and minerals into their daily routine that can be hard to acquire strictly through our diet, such as:

Emerging research suggests that vegan diets may not be able to offer us several other essential nutrients in the proper amounts that we need to feel our very best. 

The truth is, no matter how healthy we eat, the food we consume cannot possibly offer us every single nutrient that we need in the necessary amounts. Declining soil quality, processed foods, and even our busy schedules don’t always allow us to dedicate enough time and effort to seek out the highest nutrition sources for our bodies. 

Finding vegan iron sources that meet our needs and fit easily into our lifestyle can often be a difficult task. A much better option may be to use a vegan multivitamin that offers a healthy dose of the iron and all the other key nutrients that we may be missing. Plus, most ingredients work better together, like taking an iron supplement with vitamin C increases the absorption of iron.

Why is Iron so important for our bodies? 

Iron is an essential mineral that is found in every single cell within our bodies. It’s responsible for helping to make hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying proteins that help transport oxygen in our bloodstream) and myoglobin (a protein that carries and stores oxygen in our muscle cells). Not having enough iron in our diets can cause us to experience a host of unwanted symptoms, and if we continue to have low levels of this key mineral over a period of time, it can lead to the possibility of developing iron deficiency anemia. Anemia symptoms can include exhaustion, shortness of breath, headache, irritability, dizziness, and weight loss. [2]

Not everyone who’s diet is low in iron will develop anemia, but they may still experience some of its symptoms. Having enough iron in our bodies means having healthy red blood cells that can carry the necessary amount of oxygen that our bodies need to keep our energy at a healthy level, so we can avoid feeling fatigued. Iron also helps to maintain other healthy cells in our bodies, including the cells that make up our skin, hair, and nails. 

Women take note – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10% of women in the U.S. are iron deficient. [3] Women, especially those who live a vegan lifestyle, are at a higher risk for becoming iron deficient due to menstruation and lower iron absorption from plant-based sources. 

Women who suffer from an iron deficiency may start to experience fatigue, often leaving them feeling tired and irritable due to the lack of iron that’s needed to help transport oxygen throughout their bodies. Our cells need oxygen for cellular respiration, which is the process of our cells using oxygen to transfer the energy that is stored in food and convert it into energy for our bodies. Less oxygen = less energy overall. Supplementing a vegan iron source into our diets can help us attain the level of iron we need to feel healthy and energized. [4]

There are two different types of iron that can meet our dietary needs:

  • Heme iron: This kind of iron is most commonly obtained through animal-based foods, like meat, fish, and eggs. This can make getting enough iron in vegan diets more of a challenge than for people who regularly include animal sources in their diets. 
  • Non-heme iron: This type of iron can be found in vegan sources, like grains, beans, and dark, leafy greens. Unfortunately, this type of iron is harder for our systems to absorb and is less useful in preventing iron deficiency. 

The fact that plant-sourced non-heme iron is less absorbable in our bodies makes it difficult for vegans to get enough iron through their diets. Animal-sourced heme iron is highly bioavailable to our systems, allowing it to be more easily absorbed. Since vegans only consume non-heme iron, it is a good idea to add a vegan iron source to help supplement our dietary needs. Many of us may assume that by adding iron-fortified foods to our diets, we will be given enough of a boost in our iron levels to meet our dietary needs, but this is not true. Iron-fortified foods can still be hard for our body to absorb and are highly processed, often containing much higher amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium. [5]

Creating a healthy vegan lifestyle includes more than just eating a plant-based diet; we must also make sure that we are adding a nutrient-rich, vegan multivitamin that includes iron and every key nutrient that will help us to meet all our daily dietary needs.

Won’t any vegan multivitamin be enough to supplement my diet?

No, it won’t. Many multivitamin supplements don’t have enough of the micronutrients that vegans may already be lacking in their diets, and can even contain fillers, sugars, or other ingredients that can do more harm than good for our bodies. Choosing a traditional vegan multivitamin is not enough; we need a multivitamin specifically made for vegans that includes all the necessary nutrients that vegans need in the proper doses. 

How should I take my vegan multivitamin- capsule, tablet, or powder?

None of the above. We need to think about how we want to take our vegan multivitamin and find the best one that meets all our needs. In the past, vitamins have only been available in several forms: pill or tablet, capsule, or powder. Multivitamins that come in one of these forms have all been lacking in one common area- they have a poor absorption rate. Pills, capsules, and powders can also be loaded with binders, fillers, and other unwanted ingredients that our bodies just don’t need. Those unwanted ingredients can also make getting the necessary nutrients from those multivitamins into our system an almost impossible task. 

In order for any multivitamin to truly make a difference, it needs to be readily absorbed into our systems to provide us with the nourishment that our bodies need to stay healthy. Healthycell has now evolved the way we can take our vegan multivitamins by challenging typical multivitamin absorption rates. MICROGEL™ is a groundbreaking advance in nutrient delivery systems and was created by doctors and vegan nutritionists to outperform traditional supplements. Only one vegan multivitamin is currently using this pioneering technology to deliver every essential nutrient that vegan diets may be missing. Vegan Essentials by Healthycell offers the necessary amounts of each key nutrient, and it further optimizes and ensures high absorption with the addition of vitamin C, which is vital to help non-heme iron absorb within our bodies. [6] 

Vegan Essentials is a complete supplement that offers us more than just the plant-based iron that we need. It also offers us every vitamin and mineral from vegan sources that our bodies need to feel their best. Available in single-use, peach-mango flavored gel packs, Vegan Essentials can be taken on the go, added into a favorite meal or drink, or even blended into a morning smoothie. Designed by vegans, for vegans- a single sachet of Vegan Essentials is a boost of balanced nutrition and is the perfect partner to complement our vegan diets.


References:

[1] Dinu, M., Abbate, R., Gensini, GF., Casini, A., Sofi, F. (2017, November 22). Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. 3640-3649. doi: 10.1080/10408398.216.1138447. 

Zhu, B., Sun, Y., Qi, L., Zhong, R., Miao, X. (2015, March 5) Dietary legume consumption reduces risk of colorectal cancer: evidence from a meta-analysis of cohort studies. 5:8797. doi: 10.1038/srep08797. 

Oyebode, O., Gordon-Dseagu, V., Walker, A., Mindell, JS. (2014 September) Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. 68(9):856-62. doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-203500. Epub 2014, March 31. 

Zhang, C., Ho, SC., Lin, F., Cheng, S., Fu, J., Chen, Y. (2010 February) Soy product and isoflavone intake and breast cancer risk defined by hormone receptor status. (2):501-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2009. 01376.x Epub 2009, September 29. 

Douglas, CC., Johnson, SA., Arjmandi, BH. (2013 October) Soy and its isoflavones: the truth behind the science in breast cancer. 13(8):1178-87. 

Wu, AH., Wan, P., Hankin, J., Tseng, CC., Yu, MC., Pike, MC. (2002 September) Adolescent and adult soy intake and risk of breast cancer in Asian-Americans. (9):1491-6.  *All studies above referenced from: https://healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-benefits#4  

[2] Mason, JB. (2016) Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman, L., Schafer, AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016: chap. 218.

Maqbool, A., Parks, EP., Shaikhkhalil, A., Panganiban, J., Mitchell, JA., Stallings, VA. Nutritional requirements. In: Kliegman, RM., St. Geme, JW., Blum, NJ., Shah, SS., Tasker, RC., Wilson, KM. eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020: chap. 55. Referenced from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002422.htm 

[3] What You Need to Know About Iron Supplements. Referenced from: https://webmd.com/vitmains-and-supplements/features/iron-supplements#1 

[4] What Do Our Body Cells Do with Oxygen? Referenced from: https://sciencing.com/do-body-cells-do-oxygen-6388828.html 

[5] Are Fortified and Enriched Foods Healthy? Referenced from: https://healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/fortified-and-enriched-foods#1 

[6] Lynch, Sean R., Cook, James D. (1980 December) Interaction of Vitamin C and Iron. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences/Volume 355, Issue 1. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1980.tb21325.x