My iron levels were a bit low when I got checked last week. Specifically, it was the ferritin, or stored iron count, that was borderline low.
I’m taking some iron supplements, along with vitamin C to help absorption. I’m also paying more attention to getting iron in my diet.
I learned that the RDA of iron for vegetarian women is 33, while the RDA for non-vegetarian women is 18 mg. This is because the non-heme iron that you get from plants and grains can be harder to absorb than iron that you get from meat. Also, I learned to be mindful that tea and coffee can block absorption of iron.
Here are some vegetarian sources of iron that I’m incorporating:
Blackstrap molasses: I make a morning tonic with a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and stevia. Looks dark like coffee and is surprisingly tasty and energizing.
Lentils: I often have lentil soup for lunch and love it.
Edamame, Quinoa and Tempeh: I often include these 3 ingredients in a Buddha bowl for dinner. I just keep a bag of organic edamame in the freezer, makes a great snack too!
Black beans, kidney, pinto and white beans: I put these on salads all the time.
Spinach: but it has to be cooked, not raw in order to absorb the iron.
Oatmeal: an occasional breakfast, I drizzle with some blackstrap molasses too!
Dried apricots: I honestly never eat these, but they’re good to keep in mind.
Pumpkin seeds: Love these – can add to oatmeal, or the buddha bowl!
Spirulina and chlorella: I add these to smoothies.
Cooking in a cast-iron skillet helps too!
Here's a resource that was helpful in my research: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.htm
Good luck and enjoy the boost of energy from getting your iron levels up!