Earth first

4 Tips To Improve Iron Absorption

Iron is an essential nutrient, crucial for building red blood cells in the body. Experts recommend a higher iron intake if you’re eating a plant-based diet, but make sure you’re absorbing as much iron from your food by using these 4 easy meal hacks!

Not all forms of dietary iron are created equal. While it’s entirely possible to get all the iron you need from plant-based sources, the form of iron found in plants (non-heme iron) is less easily absorbed by your body than the heme form found in animals and fish - meaning those eating a plant-based diet may need to eat up to twice as much iron to compensate.

Learn more about animal and plant-based sources of iron.

4 Tips for getting more iron from a plant-based diet

Luckily, with these four simple hacks you can optimise your body’s absorption of the non-heme iron found in plants – making sure you get the most out of every meal!

1. Add some vitamin c to your meal

Vitamin C makes it easier for your body to absorb non-heme iron, so adding a glass of orange juice or a sliced kiwi to your breakfast oats will increase the amount of iron you take-up from your plant-based breakfast.1,2

2. Wait for your coffee

Coffee and tea are rich in polyphenoles, which are molecules that drastically reduce iron uptake. Therefore if you’re looking to maximise the amount of iron you absorb from a meal, it’s best to avoid drinking your caffeine alongside your food. Instead, wait until well after you’ve finished eating to ensure your body can uptake the iron it needs unhindered.3

3. Watch out for calcium

Calcium is a crucial mineral in our diets, but calcium also inhibits iron absorption if eaten with a meal.4 Therefore try and avoid taking calcium supplements or drinks fortified with calcium (such as many plant-based milks) when you’re eating - get your calcium at other times of the day to ensure you’re not sacrificing your iron intake!

4. Soak any raw beans, seeds and grains

Phytate is a naturally occurring so-called ‘antinutrient’ that inhibits iron uptake in your gut. It’s present in raw beans, seeds, and grains, but can be drawn out of your food by soaking, fermenting, or sprouting (letting the seeds begin to grow in a moist environment.) before eating. This will significantly reduce the amount of phytate you end up taking in, thereby improving your body’s absorption of the iron in your meal!5 

For example: Before cooking, simply let a cup of raw chickpeas (or any other legume) soak for 20-60 minutes and drain the water afterwards. Alternatively, let the soaked chickpeas sit in an open glass jar for two to three days to let them sprout. Cook them with your favourite curry or for a loaded burrito bowl and enjoy a healthy source of protein with that extra dose of iron. 

Have you tried any of these tips to maximise your body's iron absorption? Let us know in the comments below!

Related articles

Most viewed

Earth First

The Impact of Deforestation on Brazil Nuts

Molly Melvin

These days, everything we eat seems to come with its own ethical price tag. The story behind the…

Earth First

6 Reasons Why We Should Care About What We Eat

Merel Van der Meer

Nowadays, it seems guaranteed that our supermarket shelves will always be filled with food and…

Earth First

Nanotechnology | How It’s Used In Food And Packaging

Kelly Oakes

If we can mitigate the potential health risks, nanotechnology offers plenty of benefits when it…

Human Stories

Cashew Nuts: The Hidden Cost of Production

Molly Melvin

Alongside the dramatic rise in health conscious and vegan diets, cashew nuts are fast becoming the…

Human Stories

Who Pays the Price of Food Inflation?

Aran Shaunak

I don’t need to tell you that we’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. The food…

Earth First

Probiotics: The Science Behind Good Bacteria

Carolina Moyano

Probiotics are often found in fermented foods, but not all fermented foods contain probiotics.…

Earth First

Plant-Based Diets and Gut Health

Adrià Porta

Eating more plant fibres can help improve your gut microbiota diversity and protect your intestinal…

Earth First

Should We Bring Back The Buffet?

Dr Caroline Wood

Lavish, all-you-can-eat spreads are often a key feature of parties, weddings, hotel stays and…

Earth First

Edible Flowers & How To Grow Them

Virginie Maenhout

Have you ever thought about growing edible flowers? It’s pretty easy. We asked some experts,…

Earth First

The Brazil Nut | How It’s Grown

Molly Melvin

At first glance, the Brazil nut seems little more than an oversized, overpriced nut you pass in the…

Earth First

Rice | The Italian Way

Silvia Lazzaris

I don’t love risotto. This has always been, for my Italian family, one of my most intriguing…

Earth First

Chickpeas | How It’s Grown

Marie Lödige

One of our favourite beans. Well, actually it is a legume. And to be scientifically correct, it is…

Keep updated with the latest news about your food with our newsletter

Follow Us