Iron myth

| Post published on June 3, 2012
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One of the most annoying and most repeated myths about plant-based diets is: ‘If you don’t eat meat, you won’t get enough iron and you’ll become anaemic!’ A new study confirmed that vegetarians eating a healthy, varied diet are not at any greater risk of iron deficiency anaemia than meat-eaters but also revealed that contrary to what most people think, meat-eaters get less than just 20 per cent of their iron from meat while almost half of their iron intake (45 per cent) comes from cereals and cereal products. A diet rich in wholegrain cereals and breads (many of which are now enriched with iron), beans and other pulses, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts and seeds provides an adequate iron intake. Fresh fruits and vegetables also contain lots of vitamin C which increases iron absorption so it’s an ideal combination!

Saunders, AV, et al., 2012. Iron and vegetarian diets. MJA Open. 1 Suppl 2: 11-16.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
I joined Viva! as a health campaigner in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. My scientific training helped me research and write numerous reports, guides and fact sheets for Viva! including Meat the Truth, Fish-Free for Life, One in Nine (breast cancer and diet) and the substantial report on the detrimental health effects of consuming dairy; White Lies. This accompanied Viva!’s report The Dark Side of Dairy which spelt out the inherent cruelty of dairy farming. We were the first UK group to take on the dairy industry in this way, and many of our supporters go vegan after reading these reports.

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