On Monday I donated blood for the 3rd time. They were a bit concerned about my iron level being too low but the other blood test said I was ok to give blood so I did. What vegan foods are rich in Iron so I pass the grade next time?
We have Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, spinach, raisins, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, pinto beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, Lima beans, lentils, arugula, collard greens, etc. I could go on, but there's definitely no shortage of veggies with iron.
I give blood every other month. (the damn Blood bank loves me. they call me every 6 weeks and ask, "is next Saturday at 10am ok?)
And I always just barely pass the iron test. Even before I was vegan I just barely passed the iron test. I've even failed it once or twice.
And I've checked with Cronometer - my iron intake is almost always over 100% of the RDA. My multi contains 50%. and I do eat my beans and my spinach. Just my soymilk contributes another 12%.
I've talked to my doctor and also did some research and the three main things seem to be this.
1. Some people just absorb iron less efficiently. (age and health are factors)
2. plant sources of iron are less absorbable than animal sources.
3. Some foods help the absorption of iron and some inhibit it. And it seems I (and most vegans) eat a lot of the foods that inhibit the absorption of iron).
For a little while, I took a multi with 100% of the RDA of iron. My stools turned black and became uncomfortably hard. Like pooping bricks. Iron is toxic in high levels but it's not normally dangerous because we just excrete it thru our poop.
I'm not sure what that means as far as my body goes. My doctor just said to take a different multi. 66% seems to be my upper limit.
Iron is better absorbed with Vitamin C. So if you take a multi-take it with a glass or OJ. Also, coffee and soy milk inhibit the absorption of iron. so don't take your supplement with them. And calcium inhibits iron absorption (as does antacids that contain calcium). so don't take your multi and a calcium supplement together. Some people just find it better to take their multi at dinner. or before bed.
I don't normally buy or eat dried fruit. but when I get the call from the blood bank I stop and buy some dried apricots and finish the bag during the week before the appointment. Checking the bag of apricots - it really shouldn't make a difference. but it seems to help - so I continue to do it. Like the baseball player who won't change his socks. (oh, maybe its the Vitamin C in the apricots)
I've had issues with iron. I donated blood last month and mine was finally at a good level. I have been eating more beans and rice lately so I imagine that has a lot to do with it. I like lentils and black beans a lot. I try to drink orange juice often as well or eat some kind of fruit. I take an iron supplement right before and during my period since I loose a lot of blood. I don't like taking it otherwise if I can avoid it, makes my stomach upset. I don't eat a lot of spinach anymore since the iron in it is basically useless. The body can't absorb it. I eat kale, collard greens, turnip and mustard greens.
As far as the iron supplements go. try taking a lower dosage - or just a half. A lot of the supplements contain 18mg of iron which is fine. if you don't eat anything else that contains iron. 12 g seems to be the max for me. I take 9 every day with no ill effects.
Raw spinach does have some benefits. but yeah, you want to eat it cooked. I put raw spinach in my salads anyway. it can't be less nutritious than lettuce. but I really like cooked spinach.
And the neat thing about cooked spinach. You can take a pound of spinach (about 10 cups) and it cooks down to about 1.5 cups. I don't normally eat a pound of spinach at one sitting - but will eat a cup.