Vegetarians Have Higher Risks of Anemia


A diet of no meat and animal products may raise the risk of anemia. However, you can provide yourself with nutrients that the body requires by taking supplements and with a balanced diet.

There are a number of reasons why people refuse to consume meat and animal products such as egg, milk, cheese. However, this can make you encounter a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia, a possibly dangerous condition in which the body cannot produce a sufficient amount of red blood cells that carry oxygen.

Anemia can be caused by iron deficiency among vegetarians who cut meat. Anemia can, on the other hand, be the result of vitamin B12 deficiency among vegans who completely refuse any animal products such as eggs, milk, dairy, and even honey.

Iron Absorption

The body reuses most of iron over and over again; merely a small amount of iron is excreted through urine, feces, and sweat. So how much iron your body daily requires?

  • Men (14-18 years of age): 11 mg
  • Men (19 and over): 8 mg
  • Women (14-18 years of age): 15 mg
  • Women (19-50 years of age): 18 mg
  • Women (51 and over): 8 mg

For women, the absorption of iron is especially necessary in period.

There are two types of iron: heam-iron, obtained from animal sources, and non-heam iron, obtained from vegetable sources. Heam-iron is more easily absorbed than non-heam iron.

Non-heam iron has poor bioavailability in view of the presence of phosphates, phytates, oxalates, carbonates, dietary fibre, which is able to impede the absorption of iron. Scientists, for this result, believe that vegetarians should keep a watchful eye on iron deficiency. Nevertheless, it has become recently obvious that a combination of non-heam iron and vitamin C may neutralize this inhibition.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Anemia is most commonly caused by iron deficiency, which means that your diet does not contain enough iron. Iron plays a very important role in bearing oxygen in the hemoglobin of the red blood cells. Thanks to these cells, oxygen is delivered throughout your body, providing energy for your body. One of the most common symptoms of anemia is tiredness. However, mild anemia may not exhibit this symptom.

Here below are the lists of foods that vegetarians can consume in order to raise the amount of iron in their diet:

  • Whole grains
  • Prune juice
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Enriched rice or pasta
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Dried beans

You are recommended to consume foods rich in iron together with vitamin C because it can help your body make use of iron.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

Anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency is also known as pernicious anemia. Vitamin B makes great contributions to the generation of red blood cells. Vegans may be at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia because this vitamin, in nature, can only be found in meat or animal products. Meanwhile, vegetarians can receive enough B12 through dairy and eggs.

You can take in vitamin B12 through these processed foods:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Meat substitutes that include vitamin B12
  • Fortified cereal
  • Fortified rice or soy milk
  • Dietary supplements that include vitamin B12

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

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