Where do you get your iron?

As vegans we are used to people always asking us, “where do you get your protein?”. When you get pregnant you get a fun new question to answer which is, “where do you get your iron?”. There is a myth that most vegans
are iron deficient (at least that is what my doctor told me). This puzzles me because most of the vegans I hang with eat tons of leafy greens and legumes, which are both great sources of iron. The fact of the matter is however, once you become pregnant your iron needs do go way up. You have twice as much blood in your body so you need extra iron to make more hemoglobin. Iron is also extremely important in growing your baby and placenta. Pregnant women usually need 27 milligrams of iron per day.
Fresh spinach for morning smoothies
Fresh spinach for morning smoothies

Here is a list of vegan items and their iron content*:

  • 1 cup iron-fortified ready-to-eat cereal: 24 mg
  • 1 cup fortified instant oatmeal: 10 mg
  • 1 cup edamame (boiled soybeans): 8.8 mg
  • 1 cup cooked lentils: 6.6 mg
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans: 5.2 mg
  • 1 cup chickpeas: 4.8 mg
  • 1 cup lima beans: 4.5 mg
  • 1 ounce roasted pumpkin seeds: 4.2 mg
  • 1 cup cooked black or pinto beans: 3.6 mg
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses: 3.5 mg
  • 1/2 cup raw firm tofu: 3.4 mg
  • 1/2 cup boiled spinach: 3.2 mg
  • 1 cup prune juice: 3.0 mg
  • 1 slice whole wheat or enriched white bread: 0.9 mg
  • 1/4 cup raisins: 0.75 mg

As you can see from the chart there are lots of great plant based ways to get your iron. One great idea that a friend shared with me this weekend was adding a hand full of spinach to your smoothies in the morning. It may turn your smoothies green (which I find fun) but you can’t even taste it. I also keep hummus on hand at all times for snacks. Plus! who doesn’t love rice and beans for dinner. These are just a few things I do but make sure to talk to your doctor about what is right for you. They might recommend a supplement just to be sure you are hitting that 27 milligrams mark.

*Chart found on babycenter.com

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