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Vegan Iron Supplements

Updated: May 11, 2023

Why is Iron Important?

Without consuming red meats, fish, and poultry which are rich in iron, iron deficiency can be a concern for those leading a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. About 70% of our body's iron is found transporting oxygen as hemoglobin and myoglobin in red blood cells and muscle cells respectively. With more than 3 million cases of iron-deficiency anemia reported in the US each year, following the “Fuel for the Future” theme for National Nutrition Month 2023, we can be proactive about our diet.

Recommended Daily Iron Intake

The National Institutes of Health's recommended dietary allowance (RDA) or daily intake of iron varies based on age and sex. For males 19 years of age or older, the recommended daily iron intake is 8 mg. For females 19 to 50 years of age, the recommended daily iron intake is 18 mg. Menstrual bleeding and pregnancy increase the need for iron while periods of lactation where menstruation is paused for the first few months after pregnancy decrease the need.

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Iron

Iron can be found in its heme or nonheme state depending on the food from which it is derived. Heme iron, a natural substance in the body that helps bind oxygen to red blood cells as hemoglobin, is found in animal meats such as beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. Non-heme iron is plant-derived and can be found in foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, white beans, lentils, spinach, tofu, and nuts.

Iron Content of Selected Foods

Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency can result in anemia as the body lacks the iron to produce enough hemoglobin-rich red blood cells. High-risk groups of iron deficiency anemia include women, the elderly, those on blood thinners, those with kidney failure, and those with difficulties taking in iron.

Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

If experiencing any signs and symptoms listed above and believe it may be due to iron deficiency, speak with your doctor as iron levels can be determined through blood tests.

Vegan-Friendly Iron Supplementation Options

Animal-free iron supplements can help prevent iron deficiency anemia and serve as sustainable non-meat sources of iron. We at VeganMed are happy to share some of our over-the-counter (OTC) verified animal-free iron supplements. It is important to note that the amount of elemental iron can vary depending on the specific brand and formulation of the iron supplement.

​Iron Salt

Elemental Iron Content



​Ferrous Gluconate

​ 12%

​Less risk for gastrointestinal side effects due to reduced iron content

Ferrous Sulfate


​Most common and inexpensive

​Ferrous Bisglycinate


Easily absorbed and reduced gastrointestinal side effects

​Ferrous Fumarate


Contains a higher iron content

Verified Animal-Free Iron Supplements

Potential Side Effects of Iron Supplementation

Side effects when taking iron supplements include upset stomach, nausea, and constipation. Taking more than the recommended dosage of iron can cause iron poisoning with symptoms of abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, irritability, and drowsiness. Serious poisoning can lead to shortness of breath, increased heart rate, unconsciousness, low blood pressure, liver failure, and seizures. As accidental iron overdose is a leading cause of poisoning and death in children, keep iron out of children's reach. In case of iron poisoning, call local poison control or go to the emergency department as soon as possible.

It is always best to check the label or consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and type of iron supplement for your individual needs.


Iron is an important mineral and essential to all regardless of dietary preference. Sources of iron can be found in both animal and plant-based food sources. Without proper attention to diet and supplementation, those with a plant-based diet, women, the elderly, those on blood thinners, and those with kidney failure are at an increased risk of iron deficiency. Stay healthy with a sustainable diet that meets your needs. VeganMed can help you identify verified and certified animal-free supplements and medications.

Co-authored by: Dan Nguyen, Edna Hormoz, Marco Aziz


Disclaimer: The product and/or information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not lab test the products to confirm that they are free from animal ingredients, and it is possible that the formulation and ingredients could have changed. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product.


Looking for certified and verified animal-free products?

Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!

If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!

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Includes important informations. Well done.

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