Top 18 Vegetarian Iron Sources for a Healthier You

Looking for vegetarian iron sources? In general assumption, seafood, and red meat are the only great sources of iron — which is true. But, there are plenty of plant-based foods high in iron.

By cautiously selecting the right kind of food high in iron, vegetarians too can fulfill the daily requirement of iron. However, iron supplements for vegetarians are also very easily available in all pharmacies. But, that’s not always necessary — you can do this by choosing the RIGHT DIET & the RIGHT INTAKE.

Iron is an essential nutrient for proper body functioning. It keeps the human body in good health. Iron essentially is responsible for transporting oxygen to different parts of the body including tissues, muscles & others.

Iron deficiency can be awful for your body. Vegetarians and particularly women are more prone to iron deficiency and its effects. Therefore, they need to be especially careful, if Iron intake is enough as required or not.

Poor dietary choices can be really bothersome, especially for vegetarians as iron stores are pretty low compared to non-vegetarians.

Symptoms of Iron deficiency: Tiredness, shortness of breath, irritability, dizziness, headache & weakness. These symptoms are related to Anemia.

This article is all about vegetarian iron sources. Read the full article to discover the list of iron-rich foods for vegetarians. Let’s get started.

Top Vegetarian iron sources:

  1. Lentils

  2. Chickpeas

  3. Spinach

  4. Oats

  5. Tofu

  6. Potatoes

  7. Cashews

  8. Flax Seeds

  9. Sesame Seeds

  10. Beets

  11. White Mushrooms

  12. Edamame

  13. Dried apricots

  14. Dark chocolate

  15. Fortified cereals

  16. Amaranth

  17. Cannellini beans

  18. Hulled hemp seeds

Before diving deeper into each of these vegetarian iron sources, you must know about the two forms of iron. We’ll also get you a clear picture of iron requirements based on age & gender.

The chances of iron deficiency in vegans & vegetarians are more than that in non-vegetarians. One important point to note here is that — the iron obtained from plants, is not as easily absorbed in the body, as iron that is obtained from animals.

Iron is found in food in two, different forms — heme and non-heme. Let’s have a look:

Heme iron:

Heme iron is that form of iron that is present in seafood, chicken, beef, pork & other forms of meat. This form of iron has the property of getting observed by the human body very easily.

Non-heme iron:

Unlike heme iron, non-heme iron comes from the byproducts of animals & other plant sources including dairy products, seeds, nuts, beans, grains, fortified cereals, and vegetables. Non-heme iron does not easily get absorbed by the human body, and you need more intake in this form.

But, there is nothing to worry, you can include iron-rich foods in your daily diet and very much protect your body from any form of iron deficiency.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron:

The average daily recommended intake of iron (per medical experts) is 18 mg per day. But, RDI of iron will depend on certain factors — like gender & life stage.

For example, men & post-menopause women are recommended a daily dose of 8 mg of iron. For menstruating women, it is 18 mg per day & for pregnant women it goes to 27 mg per day.

Note: For vegetarians and vegans, the RDI is almost 1.8 times higher than non-vegetarian (as non-heme iron is not absorbed in the body easily).

Daily Requirement of Iron (based on gender & age):


Age: 19+

Iron (mg/day): 8



Age: 19-50

Iron (mg/day):18


Age: 51+

Iron (mg/day): 8


Stage: Pregnant

Iron (mg/day): 27


Stage: lactating

Iron (mg/day): 9

Let’s talk about some of the most important Vegetarian iron sources:

  1. Lentils.

Half cup cooked Lentils contains 3.17 mg iron, which is 18% of the daily value.

Lentils are one of the most popular vegetarian iron sources. Take a half cup of lentils or legumes and it will provide you around 18% of your daily iron requirement.

In addition to being one of the foods high in iron, lentils are also a great source of fiber and protein. So, if you are going with the daily iron requirement, you are undoubtedly helping your body fight many other problems.

The nutrients present in lentils can keep you full for hours, which can also be an addition to your weight-loss regimens.

  1. Chickpeas.

Half a cup of Chickpeas contains 1.5 milligrams (mg) of iron, which is equal to 8.3% daily value.

Chickpeas are one of the most well-known plant-based vegetarian iron sources as well as fiber for heart-healthy and protein for muscles. It comes with a bunch of health benefits and if you like them — you are at the winning end.

  1. Spinach.

Two cups of packed raw spinach contain 1.4 mg of iron, which is 7.7% of the daily value.

You can get plenty of iron flow into your body with dark leafy greens particularly spinach. In addition to being an amazing vegetarian iron source, they also make your bones healthy with its plant-based calcium content.

  1. Oats.

One cup of Oats contains 1.7 mg of iron, which is 9.4% of the daily value.

The awesome part of eating lots is — they can be cooked very easily 7 effortlessly. Oats can be taken in the form of breakfast, or it can be also the heartiest snack. You can make energy balls (not so common) with raw oats for long-lasting energy.

  1. Tofu.

Half a cup of tofu contains 3 mg of iron, which is 17% of the daily value.

Tofu, the soybean-based protein is another top vegetarian iron source. It’s a boon for vegans & vegetarians in a number of ways. The best thing about eating tofu is that — it blends in any kind of flavor and you can eat them with anything.

  1. Potatoes.

One medium-sized potato contains 1.87 mg of iron, which is 14% of the daily value.

As a common perception goes, potatoes are not that bad for you! They provide healthy carbs, potassium, and are one of the most popular iron-rich foods. And, the best thing with potatoes, like tofu is — they can blend well into any flavor and can be cooked with anything.

  1. Cashews.

An ounce of cashews contains 1.72 mg of iron, which is 135 of the daily value.

Nuts & nut butter are popular sources of iron and cashews are one of them. Whether you are eating them alone or adding to smoothies — your daily requirement of iron is being fulfilled.

  1. Flax Seeds.

Two tablespoons of flax seeds contain 1.2 mg of iron, which is 7% of the daily value.

One the last few years, flax seeds have become one of the popular healthy snacks. They are rich in fiber, healthy omega-3 fats, and not to mention one of the top Vegetarians iron sources. You can mix them in your bowl of yogurt or blend them into your glass of smoothies — it adds to taste anyway.

  1. Sesame Seeds.

Two tablespoons of sesame seeds contain 1.2 mg of iron, which is 7% of the daily value.

While most people do not take this too seriously to include sesame seeds in their daily diet, yet, it should make for serious consideration. Not only do they aid in the daily requirement of iron 7 food, but they also add a nice crunch to your daily food routine.

Other Vegetarian iron sources:

  1. Beets

  2. White Mushrooms

  3. Edamame

  4. Dried apricots

  5. Dark chocolate

  6. Fortified cereals

  7. Amaranth

  8. Cannellini beans

  9. Hulled hemp seeds


If you are preparing your daily diet chart a little cautiously and with proper knowledge — there could be a variety of foods high in iron. And, when non-heme iron taken in combination with food rich in calcium can boost the absorption.

People who are vegans or vegetarians must ensure that they have enough iron in their day. They must add these Vegetarian iron sources in their diet.

Those who continually feel tired, dizzy, irritable, weak — even after following this regimen must immediately speak to their dietitian. There are various iron supplements for vegetarians, which you can take after consulting your doctor.


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