Supplements for Vegans - Iron and Vitamin B12

Iron deficiency can cause anaemia with such symptoms as fatigue, dizziness and pale skin.

Iron is important in the diet because it is a major part of haemoglobin in red blood cells which carries oxygen around the blood.  The oxygen is used by your cells to produce energy which is why iron deficiency can cause fatigue. 

There are two types of iron in the diet.  The most easily absorbed, haem iron is found in animal sources. Vegans can get iron from beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and grains and leafy green vegetables but this is non-haem iron which is not so easily absorbed.  Fortunately vegan diets also tend to be rich in vitamin C which helps the absorption of iron and in fact for this reason many vegans are not iron deficient.  

If however you do suspect you are iron deficient please see your doctor to rule out other causes such as underactive thyoid.  A simple blood test should be all that is needed and if you do need a supplement stick to the recommended dose.  Men need around 9mg daily, women 15mg.

B12 deficiency can also cause anaemia. This can be a problem for vegans because the only vegan sources of vitamin B12 are fortified foods or supplements.  B12 deficiency causes your body to produce abnormally large red blood cells which cannot function properly then to carry oxygen round the body.  You need around 3 micrograms B12 daily.  It is a water soluble vitamin so that your body cannot store it so make sure you are getting your daily dose. 

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