Iron in plant based diets....
One of my friends recently said that when they tried to reduce the amount of meat that they eat they started developing an Iron deficiency. I've heard this before but have previously dismissed it as an excuse, because from my understanding Vegans tend to have a higher intake of dietary Iron then someone on a standard western diet. In fact the number one reason people going on to a plant based diet have trouble is that they're simply not eating enough.
Standard western diets are calorie dense so you need to eat smaller quantities. Where as plant based diets are calorie light so you need to eat larger amount to get your needed calories.
It's a good idea when you start to go towards a plant based diet to use a tool such as chron-o-meter https://cronometer.com/ to make sure you're getting enough calories and other nutrients etc.
However having said that this is from someone in whom I've got a lot of respect for in So I decided I'd double check my facts and read up on the matter further. In doing so, I've found that while the above is true it's definitely not the whole story. As is often the case.
Dietary Iron comes in two forms heme-iron (from animal product) and non-heme-iron. (from plant based products) the heme-iron is easier to absorb but the body can't regulate the amount absorbed so if two much is consumed it can cause health issues just as serious as if you've a deficiency.
However non-heme-iron is harder to absorb but easier for the body to regulate. In other words there is no danger of eating to much as the body simply won't absorb the excess but it's recommended to eat almost twice the amount do to it being more difficult to absorb.
Plus there are factors which can improve or inhibit the body's ability to absorb dietary iron...
Vitamin C can improve the body’s ability to absorb non-heme-iron six fold. So it's highly recommended to make sure you're having plenty of that. Another factor is The amino acid, L-lysine which can help absorb iron this is found in high amounts in legumes such as beans and peas etc.
on the other hand Calcium and casein found in dairy products will inhibit iron absorption.
So if someone went form eating lots of meet to eating lots of dairy they could easily actually eating more iron but absorbing less. If this was serious enough it would be a good idea to cut the dairy out first. Or at least cut it down and at the same time start having a glass of orange juice with the meal.
Some good links that I found about Iron in plant based diets.