What Can Vegans Take For Anemia
People give up eating meat and animal products such as milk, cheese, and eggs for many reasons. But doing so may increase the risk of iron deficiency anemia, a potentially serious condition in which the body does not make enough oxygen-bearing red blood cells. For vegetarians who eliminate meat, anemia can be due to an iron deficiency.
For vegans, who give up all animal products including dairy, eggs, and even honey, anemia can also be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. The answer is to eat a carefully balanced diet — by getting needed iron and B12 from other sources, you should be able to stay committed to a vegetarian or vegan diet and prevent anemia.
The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. This means that you are not getting enough iron in your diet. Iron is necessary for carrying oxygen in the hemoglobin of your red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen throughout your body, giving you energy.
Fatigue is the most common symptom of anemia, but many people have mild anemia without knowing it. Iron is available in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is the most easily used by your body and is found in meat, poultry, and fish. Non-heme iron is found in vegetables — your body can still use it, just not as easily.
It is a good idea to combine these iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C because C helps your body use iron. For example, you might want to top your spinach salad with grapefruit sections or drink a glass of orange juice as you dig into your fortified cereal in the morning.
Multivitamins often contain iron, especially those labelled for women under age 50. You should discuss the need for taking a multivitamin with iron with your doctor, and get a recommendation for which type of supplement to purchase.
If you are going vegan, it doesn't mean you won't have any sources of iron; the things you've heard are half true. All you require is, a shift of sources and your requirements can be easily met with plant-based sources effectively like raisins, dates, and lotus stem.
Take lotus stem every alternative day or twice in a week and 2-3 raisins or 2 dates on a daily basis. Since the anemia is being treated by dietary intervention, do not expect miracles in a day, give yourself at least 2 months to fully recover from the effects of anemia.
Like Iron, Vitamin B12 is most easily found in non-vegan sources. Though, often we forget the fact that mother nature has a solution to any problem that humankind could ever face if you have the desire to find it.
Fermented food products like idli and dosa are great when it comes to providing B12 or even nutritional yeast which comes from sugarcane or molasses; shitake mushrooms and fortified cereals are also good sources of Vitamin B12 if you want to recover from its effects nutritionally. Otherwise, one can always take B12 supplements as per your physician’s recommendation.
When we have low levels of iron, we become anemic. Anemia can occur naturally, as a result of not having enough red blood cells. But you also may have anemia if you take iron supplements — which is quite rare, according to Dr. Diana Bitner, a nationally recognized women’s health expert and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Many people may have iron deficiency anemia without having taken a supplement, and this condition is called iron deficiency anemia (IDA). You might be anemic because you’re at risk of anemia, but in many cases, you can correct the problem on your own.
The best natural source of B12 is food-based or fortified (i.e., synthetic) B12, such as supplements, fortified soy milk and other milk products, yogurt, cereals, and fortified orange juice. These are available from most health food stores and can cost anywhere from $4 to $60 per month. If you cannot tolerate fortified products, you can make your own synthetic B12 with small amounts of vitamin C, and a few drops of the acid that makes up lemon juice or vinegar.
Boil one tablespoon of lemon juice for five to ten minutes, then pour it into two-four millilitres of water. Boil the solution for five minutes, then slowly dilute it with water to obtain one or two millilitres of B12. If you are anemic, a synthetic B12 injection could help, if the cost is affordable.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency. It is the result of not getting enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells from the body’s circulation. The lack of oxygen weakens the body’s immune system and body tissues, making it easier for diseases to develop. In some cases, anemia can lead to a decrease in the body’s ability to fight infection.
In addition, anemia can make it harder to exercise, carry out daily tasks, and sleep. If left untreated, anemia can become life-threatening. The solution? It’s easy to find extra iron in your diet. A variety of plant-based foods are rich sources. Examples include beans, lentils, and black beans, spinach, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and certain fruits and vegetables. You can also take supplements.
Symptoms Of Anemia
Symptoms of anemia are different depending on the reason why you may be deficient in iron or B12. For example, anemia can be a sign of a vitamin deficiency. A common vitamin deficiency symptom in the United States is fatigue. Anemia can be a symptom of fatigue in people who have poorly-controlled diabetes.
Another symptom of anemia is feeling dizzy when standing up quickly. Anemia can be a symptom of kidney problems, which often goes along with chronic kidney disease. Anemia can also be a symptom of having insufficient zinc or selenium in the body, which can lead to tiredness and weakness.
What Can Vegans Take For Anemia?
Besides getting a reasonable amount of iron from fortified foods, some people experience iron deficiency anemia. For example, if they are taking certain medications, or they are not getting enough of a vitamin B12 supplement, they may develop a deficiency.
Before taking iron supplements, the best way to determine the cause of anemia is to see a doctor. If the doctor determines that you have anemia, he or she can prescribe a synthetic form of the vitamin. Some people can tolerate iron-fortified foods well, while others don’t.
Vegetarians who are iron-deficient may need to take pills and make other dietary changes. Many people who have low levels of vitamin B12 need to take a daily supplement. When this is the case, vegans may want to look at other iron-rich foods.
How Do Vegans Get Iron And Vitamin B12?
Vegans are advised to get adequate amounts of iron from plant sources such as whole grains, pulses (such as lentils and peas) and dark, leafy greens like spinach. Because of their high content of vitamin B12, however, fortified foods, such as fortified cereals and soy milk, are important for vegans as well.
Foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges and tomatoes, are good sources of iron as well. Vitamin B12 is best obtained from fortified cereals and products with fortified vitamin B12, such as vegetable-based dairy foods. Even if you can’t get vitamin B12 from these sources, getting vitamin B12 from food-based supplements is safe and will provide the same amount of vitamin B12 that you would receive from B12-fortified foods.
Iron And Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Research in the medical literature suggests that vegans may have an increased risk of developing anemia for several reasons. Iron deficiency anemia is due to the body’s inability to absorb iron, which occurs in the body because the non-heme iron in animal products is not fully absorbed by humans.
But recent research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that many vegetarians don’t get enough iron from plant sources to keep them healthy. The Journal analyzed data on vitamin B12 intake and asked its volunteers to undergo blood tests. Those who were vegetarians had lower levels of B12 and a tendency to have lower blood levels of vitamin B12.
What Can Vegans Eat To Prevent Anemia?
Iron is one of the minerals essential to red blood cells. Inadequate iron in the diet is a factor in iron deficiency anemia. Vitamin B12 deficiency can make the absorption of iron from food difficult, so vegans need to eat enough vitamin B12 to maintain healthy red blood cells and avoid the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. Vegans also need enough vitamin D to absorb calcium, and supplements can be used to supplement these minerals.
Foods That Contain Iron And Vitamin B12
Iron is one of the most important minerals for energy production in the body, making up about 20 percent of hemoglobin, the compound in red blood cells that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. In the United States, the average adult male needs about 27 milligrams of iron each day and the average adult female about 20 mg.
Vitamin B12 is a fat-soluble vitamin found in meat, fish, eggs, milk, and fortified products such as cereals, soy, and tofu. Iron is a necessary component of hemoglobin, but it must be absorbed from food. Although other factors play a role in iron absorption, B12 is an important supplement, as deficiency causes anemia.
Top Foods High In Iron For Vegans
Iron is a mineral essential for proper growth and development. Your body uses it to make hemoglobin and certain hormones. Two types of iron are found in food:
- heme (animal-derived)
- non-heme (plant-derived).
Although it can be taken as a supplement, enough iron is available in our dietary sources. Vegans can find non-heme iron in dried beans and legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and wholegrain cereals and bread.
Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body. Myoglobin, another protein made by iron, brings oxygen to your muscles.
Why You Need Iron
Your body needs iron to function properly. Too little will lead to an iron deficiency. Too much can cause iron poisoning. The average amount of iron a vegan needs is 32 milligrams per day for women and 14 milligrams per day for men. Vegans need up to 1.8 times more iron than people who eat meat. Iron plays an important part in proper bodily functions, including:
Blood Production Health
Iron is found in red blood cells called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood from your lungs to your tissues. This improves your heart health, respiratory functions, and immune function.
Your skin, hair, and nails appear stronger and healthier due to the synthesis of collagen, a protein needed for joint and skin health. Collagen is made by iron, a component of the enzymes essential for proper production. Iron is found in muscle cells. Called myoglobin, it helps muscles accept, store, and transport oxygen.
Iron makes up certain proteins essential for energy metabolism. The right amount of iron improves general energy and increases focus. Low levels of iron can lead to an iron deficiency called anemia. The symptoms of anemia include:
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
Foods With Iron For Vegans
There is a misconception that a vegan diet is missing iron, however, vegans are no more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia than the general population. Vegans typically consume an adequate amount of iron because their diet is high in vitamin C, which improves absorption of nonheme iron.
What is anemia?
Anemia is a condition that affects the body's ability to carry oxygen in the blood. Typically, anemia is caused by low intake of certain types of foods, such as red meat, dark-green leafy vegetables, and other high-protein foods. Some people with anemia may experience mild symptoms like fatigue or shortness of breath, while others may experience more severe symptoms like dizziness, irritability, and trouble sleeping.
Causes of anemia
Anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the blood. It's typically caused by low intake of certain types of foods, such as red meat, dark-green leafy vegetables, and other high-protein foods.
Symptoms of anemia
The symptoms of anemia can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms of anemia include fatigue and shortness of breath. More severe symptoms include dizziness, irritability, and trouble sleeping.
Prevention of anemia
In addition to a diet that is rich in iron, there are some other things you can do to prevent anemia.
One easy way to increase your iron is with a supplement. However, be careful with this and talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Another thing vegans can do is increase their intake of vitamin C and copper, which assists in the absorption of iron. Some foods that contain these nutrients include lemon juice, broccoli, and red peppers.
If you're vegan and experiencing symptoms such as frequent headaches or difficulty breathing, it may be a sign that you have anemia. Speak with your doctor about treatment options for anemia if this is the case!
Getting enough iron in your diet
Iron is the mineral that carries oxygen through the blood. Vegans should make sure to get enough iron in their diet for this, as anemia can result from low iron levels.
Vegans may be able to find iron in vegan foods like beans and soybean, as well as green leafy vegetables and fortified cereal. However, eating animal-based foods is the most efficient way to replenish your body’s iron levels because animal products contain a great deal of iron.
Avoiding Food With A High Phytate
Phytates are a natural compound found in certain plant foods that can bind to iron and make it less available for absorption. Whole grain products, beans, nuts, and legumes are some of the most common food sources of phytates. If you have anemia, it is important to avoid these high-phytate foods to ensure that you're able to absorb the iron in your diet.
Nuts and seeds also contain a high amount of phytates. However, eating an adequate amount of vitamin C alongside these foods may help reduce this risk by making the iron more available for absorption.
The Risk Factors For Anemia
Anemia can be caused by a low intake of certain types of foods, such as meat, dark green leafy vegetables, and other high-protein foods. The risk factors for anemia are usually genetic factors or autoimmune disorders.
One of the downsides of a vegan diet is that it can lead to anemia, especially when iron intake is not high enough. Studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans are two to three times more likely to have anemia than their meat-eating counterparts.
The reason for this may be because many plant sources of protein are low in iron, so vegans must compensate by eating more plant-based protein sources with added iron. This can be difficult for some vegans, who avoid animal products entirely. Luckily, there are many vegan foods that are high in iron content.
Going Vegan And Staying Healthy
One of the best things about veganism is that it can help those with anemia. By avoiding animal products and choosing plant-based alternatives, vegans provide themselves with a greater variety of protein sources, which are often higher in iron than meat. In addition, following a vegan diet can lead to a lower risk for anemia because vegetarians typically have a lower risk for this condition.
In order to ensure that vegans receive adequate amounts of iron in their diet, it's important to consume a wide variety of foods. Some great options include lentils, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, and fortified cereals or soy milk. It's also helpful to know that some vegetables have high levels of iron, but cooking them less will improve their nutritional content as well as the flavour.
If you're not sure how to make your vegan diet more nutritious or if you need help getting started with eating vegan food at all, there are plenty of resources online to help you out! You could start by taking a look at VeganHealth or The Vegan RD's website for more information on improving your health as a vegan.
While a vegan diet is a healthy diet in and of itself, it can increase the risk of anemia by causing lack of vitamin B12. Some of the other health problems associated with a vegan diet may also increase the risk of anemia. And some vegans who strictly follow their diet may not be getting enough vitamin B12 to meet their nutrient requirements. To prevent anemia, you should consult your doctor, who can determine the best diet to help avoid it.
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