The lesser absorption of iron coming from plants is compensated in two ways:
- The concentration of iron found in plant foods in higher than in meats, except liver. Milk hardly has any iron.
- It has been demonstrated that vitamin C, very abundant in the vegetarian diet, greatly increases the absortion of iron, even doubling it. This is an important reason for including vegetables and/ or fruit, rich in vitamin C, in each meal.
Against popular belief, there is no reason for vegetarian diets to be poor in iron. The fact is that anaemia caused by poor nutrition is quite frequent, affecting both those who eat meat and those who are vegetarians. For a time it was thought that meat was necessary because of its iron content, and those who did not eat meat ran the risk of having anaemia. But today we know that the vegetarian diet is superior in its iron content and that its absorption presents no problems if fresh foods rich in vitamin C are consumed.
Nuts, legumes and cereals contain more iron than meat, except liver. Spirula algae, brewer's yeast, sesame seed, and pollen are, together with soybeans, the vegetarian foods richest in iron.
Persons who have low iron absorption, or when the daily requirements increase, could well use a supplement of this mineral.