Some people needlessly worry about getting enough iron on a vegetarian diet. Just as with the other myths about vegetarian diets, such as the not getting enough protein or calcium myths, you can be assured there’s nothing to worry about on all counts. Medical studies show that iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegetarians and vegans than among the general population.
One source of confusion stems from the two kinds of dietary iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Meat contains both heme and non-heme iron whereas plant foods contain only non-heme.
It was once thought that heme iron was better for us in some way and that non-heme iron was hard to absorb. We now know better. It turns out that non-heme iron is well absorbed because many other substances in food, such as vitamin C, citric acid and malic acid, widely available in both fruits and vegetables, greatly increase its absorption. Even spices such as garlic can greatly increase the absorbability of non-heme iron, especially from grains. Read more