The 5 Best Vegan Iron Supplements in 2020

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Iron deficiency leads to fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath, among several other symptoms.

Plant-based iron comes in the less absorbable non-heme form, which is why vegans are at a higher risk of being deficient. Women who are menstruating regularly need even more iron to be healthy.

This guide is a detailed look at what to look for in a vegan iron supplement, and which ones are the best

If you don’t have time to read all that, here’s a quick summary of the best vegan iron supplements I’ve reviewed:

SupplementStrengths
Future Kind Vegan Iron + Vitamin C
  • Chelated iron for better absorption
  • Vitamin C included to maximize absorption further
  • Easy to swallow vegan capsules
  • No other filler ingredients
EZ Melts Vegan Iron
  • Carbonyl iron, which is usually easier on sensitive stomachs
  • Fast-melting tablets that taste good
  • Has vitamin C to improve absorption
Garden of Life Vegan Iron Supplement
  • Also has B12 added (can be convenient)
  • Arguably biggest vegan supplement brand

Do Vegans Need to Take an Iron Supplement?

It’s possible to get enough iron from vegan food sources, but it can be difficult, especially if you need to correct an existing deficiency.

For reference, 14-18% of Americans regularly take a supplement that has iron, so it’s pretty common. It takes about 8-12 weeks to correct an iron deficiency with a supplement.

Before I move on, you should always check with a doctor before taking iron supplements because there can be side effects:

  • Iron poisoning – Too much iron (over 20 mg/kg body weight) can lead to serious health risks (common in children).
  • Antibiotic interaction – If you’re on medication, an iron supplement might inhibit it.
  • Stomach issues – Typically not life threatening, but not comfortable.

Proper use of iron supplements is perfectly safe, just do it right.

SUMMARY

Taking an iron supplement is a convenient way for vegans to get enough iron (which many don’t). Just make sure you follow the directions on the label.

What to Look For In a Vegan Iron Supplement

There are 3 things you may want to pay extra attention to in supplements:

  1. The amount of iron per serving.
  2. The form of the iron.
  3. Vitamin C.

Let me quickly summarize what you need to know about each of them.

How Much Iron Do You Need Per Day?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron is 8 mg (for men) to 18 mg (for women).

iron-intake by the NIH

Vegans that donate blood on a regular basis should try to get a bit more even. Remember that you get at least some iron from your regular diet.

With an iron supplement, you want just enough not to be deficient, but you want to avoid getting too much that will make you sick.

Iron supplements usually have between 18-40 mg of iron per serving.

SUMMARY

If you’re a man, you want to pick one on the lower end of that spectrum. Even women will be fine on the lower end (if you want to be on the safe side).

Which Form of Iron Supplement is Best?

If you look at a bunch of iron supplements, you’ll see 4 main types of iron:

  • Ferric iron – The least dissolvable type.
  • Ferrous iron – More absorbable than ferric iron. Comes in forms like ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, etc.
  • Carbonyl iron – A form of pure iron. The most absorbable type, and easy on stomach issues in most cases.
  • Chelated iron – A high absorbable form of iron, but hard too common in supplements. Also good for those with stomach issues

Vitamin C Improves Iron Absorption

Good iron supplements include vitamin C because vitamin C improves iron absorption substantially.

When you’re getting iron from food sources, you should try to eat it with at least 14 mg of vitamin C per mg of iron.

Considering supplements consist of isolated, more soluble forms, you don’t need quite that much vitamin C, but should still look for some.

OVERALL SUMMARY
  • Men need 8 mg of iron per day, women need 18 mg.
  • The type of iron in a supplement doesn’t matter in most cases.
  • If you have a sensitive stomach, try to find a supplement with carbonyl iron.
  • Look for a supplement with vitamin C, which greatly improves iron absorption.

The Best Vegan Iron Supplements Reviewed

There aren’t quite as many vegan options as non-vegan options of course, but there’s still quite a few. I narrowed them down to the 5 best overall vegan iron supplements.

Overall, they are all around the same price and pretty affordable (usually around $20 for a 3 month supply).

NameIron (mg)Vitamin C (mg)Cost per serving
Future Kind Vegan Iron + Vitamin C1850$
EZ Melts Iron1830$$
Garden of Life2860$
Deva2930$$
MegaFood Blood Builder2615$$

1. Future Kind Vegan Iron + Vitamin C

Best Overall and for Sensitive Stomachs

future kind vegan iron

Form of iron: Patented Chelated Iron

This is one of the few options you have for chelated iron, which is the most absorbable form of iron, and usually easiest on the stomach.

It has 18 mg of iron (good for most vegans) and 50 mg of vitamin C, which is the best ratio of any vegan supplement I’ve seen.

Future Kind makes a variety of vegan products that are all high quality. They also ship worldwide, so it doesn’t matter if you’re in UK, Canada, or somewhere else.

Overall this is the best option for vegan men and women unless you fall under a special case where you need a higher dose.

Get a 10% Discount with coupon code ‘BEKIND10’

2. EZ Melts Vegan Iron

ez melts iron

Form of iron: Carbonyl Iron

Carbonyl iron is also easy on the stomach, and this is the best vegan option for this type of iron.

There are quite a few things about EZ Melt’s iron that makes it stand out from others:

  • Fast-melting tablets that taste good.
  • Small tablets compared to typical iron pills.
  • Made in the U.S.
  • 3rd party lab testing to ensure purity of product.

Additionally, it has the best ratio of iron:vitamin C of any product I came across.

There’s 18 mg of iron per servings, and 30 mg of vitamin C.

Overall this is a great option for most vegans unless you fall under a special case where you need a higher dose.

3. Garden of Life Vegan Iron Supplement

garden of life vegan iron

Form of iron: Not revealed

Garden of Life has a good reputation among vegan supplement manufacturers.

For some reason, though, they don’t reveal the form of iron in this supplement. Again, it’s not that important, but could be useful information to have.

The biggest way that this stands out from the rest is that it has other vitamins and minerals added.

For iron absorption specifically that’s not important, but if you were already taking a B12 pill for example, you could do away with it.

Here’s what is in Garden of Life’s iron supplement:

  • Iron – 28 mg
  • Vitamin C – 60 mg
  • Folate – 300 mcg
  • Vitamin B12 – 45 mcg
  • Vitamin B6 – 5 mg

It has a good amount of vitamin C, which is great.

The amount of iron in it is probably too high to make it ideal for men. But for women it should be okay.

4. MegaFood Blood Builder (With Vitamin B12)

megafood iron

Form of iron: FoodState form

I never came across this form of iron anywhere else, but the product looks solid as a whole, which is why it made this list (the type of iron isn’t that important anyways).

In any case, MegaFood says their “foodstate form” iron is not in a typical isolated form, but in a form that iron comes in regularly in food. So it should be fine in any case, but I’m not sure if it’s better or worse than other forms.

Moving on, this product has a reasonable amount of iron, plus other vitamins:

  • Iron – 26 mg
  • Vitamin C – 15 mg
  • Folate – 400 mcg
  • Vitamin B12 – 30 mcg

While more vitamin C would likely improve absorption, at least there’s some.

Additionally, if you’re already taking a vegan vitamin B12 supplement, you could stop taking that since this has over 100% of the RDA for B12.

5. Deva Vegan Chelated Iron (Contains Vitamin B12)

deva vegan iron

Form of iron: Amino Acid Chelated

This is the one product on this list that doesn’t have vitamin C in it.

Chelated minerals aren’t common in supplements, but they absorb well. Basically, iron molecules are attached to amino acids to improve absorption.

That should allow you to absorb enough iron from it, even without the vitamin C.

Additionally, this product has 30 mcg of vitamin B12, which is more than enough for your daily needs.

With 29 mg of iron per serving, this is again better suited for vegan women than men.

Wrapping up: Hopefully this has made the confusing world of vegan iron supplements a little easier to navigate, and that you find one that fits your needs. If you have any questions, leave them below.

 

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

5 comments

  • Appreciate this article ! Only one thing: women (vegan as well as non-vegan) go back to needing only the same amount of iron as men, once they are no longer menstruating.

  • Hi,

    If as a vegan you need 1.8 times more iron due to the iron being non heme, should this not then be reflected in the supplements or is this only if you’re getting the iron from food?

    thank you

    • This is where it gets really confusing, because many factors affect iron absorption beyond just heme type. The form of iron in a supplement can drastically affect absorption (e.g. carbonyl). Other factors like exercise or bleeding can also affect how much iron you need.

      And unfortunately, there aren’t enough studies on this specific topic to confidently set recommended amounts.

      In reality that leaves trial and error. In other words, get a blood test, take a supplement consistently for a while, and then get iron levels checked again to see if that’s sufficient.