Welcome to part 3 of our 3-part blog series on getting enough iron on a plant-based diet.
In this blog post we’ll be covering supplements, especially focusing on iron, B12 and folate.
Do I need to supplement?
Supplementation is individual to everyone.
Your requirements depend on many factors, from lifestyle, dietary to medical.
When it comes to iron, I recommend always to get your levels checked before supplementing. You may think you’re iron deficient when really you’re B12 deficient.
You may actually have a digestive disorder that is preventing your ability to absorb the iron, so adding more on top won’t do diddly squat.
Some people actually have too much iron, which can present itself with the same symptoms, and others may have Hereditary hemochromatosis: A genetic disorder characterized by excessive absorption of iron from food. It’s always best to check your levels first before trying to ‘fix’ what you think might be the problem.
B12 is another problem child. You may have been eating meat all your life, or you may be supplementing with B12 religiously, but that doesn’t always mean that you are not B12 deficient.
Both vegan and non-vegans suffer from B12 deficiency.
Some people may consume enough B12, but their bodies aren’t able to process the vitamin.
It’s not uncommon for meat eaters as well as vegans to need vitamin B12 injections every 3 months or so to boost their levels, so again, please get your levels checked with your doctor.
Now, if you have been recommended iron supplements by a health professional, then I would advise that you still follow the advice on improving absorption of iron from part two of this blog series so that you’re able to get the most out of them, and grab yourself one of the following iron supplements:
Viridian 100% Organic Liquid Iron (vegetarian, NOT vegan due to honey)
Viridian organic liquid iron contains a unique, fully-certified organic source of iron extracted from Murraya koenigii leaves. Together with standardized extracts from Guava, Lemon, Holy Basil and Amla to provide guaranteed levels of vitamins B and C. With Seagreens® organic arctic wrack seaweed, acerola, nettle, dandelion, honey and orange oil.
Suitable for all the family, including during pregnancy and breast-feeding, for children, the elderly, the highly active, vegetarians and convalescents. Non-constipating.
I’m including this since not all plant-based diets exclude honey, and it’s a wonderful natural iron supplement.
Viridian Balanced Iron Complex (vegan)
Balanced Iron Complex contains iron bisglycinate, a form of iron that is gentle on the digestive system. The formula also includes synergistic factors including Vitamin C which enhances iron absorption.
Floravital contains organic iron (II) from ferrous gluconate, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12 and C.
Source of Life Garden – Iron (vegan)
Organically cultivated from the curry plant, each capsule delivers 18 mg of organic, plant-delivered iron.
TerraNova Easy Iron 20mg (vegan)
This supplement is designed to be a rich and easily absorbable source of iron. Containing rose hips, stabilised rice bran, green barley grass, and acai berry, it provides iron as well as vitamins C & E, allowing for the effective absorption of iron.
Due to intensive farming and over sanitization, it’s incredibly difficult to get B12 naturally from the soil and bacteria found on our foods. Therefore it is important that as a vegan, vegetarian, highly plant-based eater or someone with low B12 levels, that they include a B12 supplement into their diet. As we covered earlier, many meat eaters are actually low in this vitamin too, so I’m looking at you guys too 😊
The most absorbable form of B12 is methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the active, coenzyme form of Vitamin B12. While the body can readily absorb Vitamin B12 as cobalamin, it must further convert it to a coenzyme form, methylcobalamin, to become metabolically active. In this form, it is bioidentical to the predominant and active form found in the body.
Recommended B12 Supplements:
And here’s a fun fact – prematurely greying hair is often linked to a B12 deficiency. If your B vitamins are low, it’s likely that the blood and oxygen supply to your hair is suffering.
Folate (B9, aka folic acid)
In relation to folate, I always advice that you consume it in its natural form, which is from food. It’s found in many whole foods, such as leafy greens, beans, citrus fruit, avocados, and eggs for the veggies here.
When supplementing, look for Folate, not folic acid to get the most absorbable form of the vitamin.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of Vitamin B9, which is not found in nature, nor is it naturally found in the human body. Folic acid has be metabolized by our bodies and converted to folate which is not always successful.
If you’ve been advised to supplement, for example if you are pregnant or low in this vitamin, then I would recommend the following folate supplements:
As with everything, yes, you can over do it. Make sure that you’re not taking too much of anything when you’re supplementing. If you’re taking a multi, check that you’re not taking too much additional iron for example.
And so we have come to the end of our 3-part series on getting enough iron on a plant-based diet.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.