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Iron deficiency can occur in vegetarians and vegans. “If you don’t eat any foods of animal origin, you may have an especially hard time getting enough iron,” warns Peart.

All of this has to do with heme versus non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal products and is the easiest for your body to absorb. Naturally, if you don’t eat animal products, you won’t have access to that easily absorbed heme iron.

Non-heme iron, which can be found in foods like:

Is vitamin C beneficial for anemia?

“In the event that you’re not getting sufficient iron, your medical care supplier might suggest dietary changes or an iron enhancement,” Peart says. Because orange juice is, you guessed it, high in vitamin C, doctors have typically suggested taking an iron supplement with a glass of orange juice. However, at least one recent study suggests that taking vitamin C with iron may not be as effective as previously thought for people with anemia. In 2020, a randomized clinical trial of nearly 500 people with iron-deficiency anemia found that taking iron supplements alone was just as effective as taking iron supplements with vitamin C. Make an appointment to talk to a doctor if you think you don’t get enough iron in your diet, like if you don’t eat meat and feel very lethargic.

“Iron enhancements can cause stomach related upset or stoppage, so get direction from a specialist before you begin taking an enhancement,” Peart exhorts.