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Hey all,

After years of hemming and hawing, I finally decided to go vegetarian because of my opposition to the meat processing industry (well, technically, pescatarian). However, I'm facing a few problems - seemingly contradictions.

The biggest problem is that I'm not getting enough iron. I'm bruising easily, a problem I used to encounter when I wouldn't eat enough red meat. But I know most veggies contain non-heme iron, which is harder to absorb. I've heard to eat more vitamin C for uptake, but I still don't feel like I'm taking in enough iron (and I don't really want to take a supplement, if possible). BUT I've also heard that certain foods - like whole grains and calcium - inhibit iron uptake. As a female athlete between 12 and 50, I need more calcium, so that's gotta stay. And I refuse to replace my whole grains - more bang for the buck, nutritionally. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

I'm also an athlete and have always had problems getting enough protein, even when I did eat meat. Now I'm having even more trouble, though I love beans/tofu/lentils/tempeh/etc. How much per day should I be shooting for?

Sorry for the long post! Any help is greatly appreciated!
 

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Welcome, mountain bug!

First of all, please don't discuss your eating of fish on Veggieboards. We don't consider pescatarianism a type of vegetarianism, because fish are animals, and vegetarians don't eat animals. We hope that you consider going fully vegetarian.

As far as iron, I do take a supplement for that. I just take a women's multivitamin, because my doctor said that my levels were low a few years ago. I think it runs in my family though; my sister still eats meat and the doctor told her that she was full-on anemic. You definitely shouldn't get rid of whole grains and calcium, as those are obviously important in themselves. I didn't know bruising easily was a sign of low iron. I absolutely bruise easily, but the last two years, when my iron has been checked, it has been fine.
 

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I was low in iron before going veg, four months after quitting meat I had it checked and it was above normal. Soaking whole grains in lemon water before cooking helps remove the phytates, whole grains are a good source of both zinc and iron. Eating dark greens with vitamin c foods and avoid drinking green tea with iron foods.
Your best bet is to research nutrition, then have your iron levels checked after you establish good eating habits. You may need additional iron, but shouldn't supplament if it isn't needed.
 

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Beans and greens are where it's at.

http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.htm

Try to eat at least a cup of beans per day. Dump a cup on a salad. They're good that way. Also, try some green smoothies. They're basically some greens thrown in a blender with some water or other liquid and some fruit. In my opinion, bananas are a must in green smoothies, or any smoothies for that matter. I like the creaminess they lend. Squeeze some citrus juice in your smoothie to help iron absorption.

If you'd like to watch your sodium intake, cook and freeze your beans in one to two cup portions rather than using canned beans.
 

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Some other foods that I would recommend for iron are, figs, apricots, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and parsley. You could always take a timed release vitamin C tablet if you so wish.

The recommended daily protein intake for an athlete is between 1.2-1.8 grams per kilo (2.2lbs).

Hope this information is some use to you.
 

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Thanks guys for the info and yes please don't speak about eating fish on the boards because they are animals I agree. Iron is one of my major concerns also because I was eating loads of meat a few years ago when I was anemic. It turned out that my woman issues was causing me to be anemic . So I will check into those links when I change my diet around.
 

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I'm always amazed by veg*ns with iron issues. When I first went vegetarian, my iron levels actually skyrocketed, because I eat so much more spinach and broccoli now. I actually had low iron levels as a kid, when I was an omni, but not recently.

--Fromper
 

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Why are you against taking a supplement? Women really should be taking a multivitamin that includes iron. Even people who eat plenty of red meat often have issues with iron. It's not always related to nutrition.

Also, low vitamin K can cause bruising, so maybe have that checked out too?
 

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One more thing worth implementing is to ensure you use stainless steel or cast iron cookware. You can get significant absorbable iron from cookware it seems.

J Am Diet Assoc. 1997 Jun;97(6):659-61. Increased iron content of food due to stainless steel cookware. Park J, Brittin HC.
Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2004 Jan;74(1):21-6. Iron contents of Malawian foods when prepared in iron cooking pots. Prinsen Geerligs PD, Brabin BJ, Hart DJ, Fairweather-Tait SJ.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by creep View Post

Why are you against taking a supplement? Women really should be taking a multivitamin that includes iron. Even people who eat plenty of red meat often have issues with iron. It's not always related to nutrition.

Also, low vitamin K can cause bruising, so maybe have that checked out too?
Yes I agree I am going to search for a good one soon but I have to wait little bit longer. Iron supplements and vitamins should be taken even if you have a good diet. It will help your balance.
 

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I must admit when I went vegetarian for about 12 months after I had an issue with iron intake and I became very to close to (but not) anaemic. I noticed this because I used to sleep a lot more, my gums went pale and I used to feel dizzy. The doctor basically put me on tablets for anaemia, a two week course only and it straightened out.
I don't quite know why it happened because to this day I feel like I supplemented it right, maybe my body didn't take kindly to the change in diet, but I'm used to it now and healthier than ever
x
 

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I've been using cast iron frying pans for years, even when I was omni, and have high Iron levels. The foods you cook in them tend to absorb trace amts of iron, and will help replenish your Iron levels. I will admit they are a royal pain, as they are so heavy, but when properly taken care of will last alot longer than a standard non stick pan.
 

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Question, I've been reading a bit about getting enough iron and the "don't drink coffee with your food" keeps popping up. does anyone know how long to wait before and after you eat iron food for this to work?
Thanks!
 

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Here's a link to bookmark:
http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/

Look up iron in the vegan diet, and protein in the vegan diet.
You may need more of non-heme iron to equal levels of heme iron, but I haven't anyone who ate as much veggies when omni as they do now! My levels went up.
Too much iron is not a good thing either, so iron levels should be checked before supplamenting.

I take Deva Tiny Tablets. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...=deva+vitamins
They aren't as high as the dailies, but are about the size of cat kibble (1/4 inch), easy to take. I also supplement calcium citrate.

Coffee, reg teas and calcium shouldn't be taken near meals with iron, so coffee and fruit in early morning, and Rooibos tea (herbal) all day. Calcium at night.
 
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