The 4 best vegan iron supplements — & a doctor’s tips for choosing one
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While iron can be found in plant foods, some vegans turn to supplements to obtain adequate amounts of the mineral. In an interview with Mic, Marvin Singh, M.D., an integrative gastroenterologist and founder of Precisione Clinic in Encinitas, California, explains that it can be especially important for vegans: “The [National Institutes of Health (NIH)] suggests that vegans may need almost twice the amount of iron than those who are not vegans because the body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron in plant foods as readily as heme iron in animal-based foods.” The best vegan iron supplements offer the proper dosage of the nutrient in the format of your choice, whether that’s tablets, liquid drops, or gummies. It will also offer the type of iron that works best for you: Ferrous and ferric iron salts (such as ferrous sulfate and ferrous fumarate) are commonly used in oral supplements, and while iron bisglycinate (aka ferrous bisglycinate) can be more expensive, it may produce fewer unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms. These different forms of iron are similarly bioavailable — plus, you don’t have to do any math to figure out the amount of elemental iron across the different types, as it’s listed on the label for all types.
Typically, the recommended daily dietary allowance for iron is 8 milligrams for men and post-menopausal women, and 18 milligrams for premenopausal women. (Note that dosage guidance is, unfortunately, still reliant on a binary breakdown) However, the recommended dosage can differ for vegans — and you should consult your physician to determine exactly how much you need. And because plant-sourced iron (non-heme iron) is less absorbable than heme iron found in meat, Dr. Singh adds that “taking vitamin C can also help increase the absorption of iron.” Dr. Singh warns, though, that too much iron “may do more harm than good” — especially among those with hemochromatosis, a genetic condition in which the body stores excess iron. To prevent taking too much iron, it’s always a good idea to consult with a physician who can determine the correct dosage for you.
As for format, Dr. Singh explains that it’s ultimately “a matter of choice.” Pills (or tablets), liquid, and gummy iron supplements are all available to shoppers. Dr. Singh suggests “using high-quality supplements from a respected nutraceutical company with a good reputation.” With that in mind, I’ve chosen supplements that are manufactured in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) — or, better yet, current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) — to ensure that the products meet quality standards and safety specifications.
Keeping these factors in mind, here are the four best vegan iron supplements on Amazon.
1. The fan-favorite tablets
- Amount per serving: 26 mg iron (fermented iron bisglycinate), 15 mg vitamin C, 680 mcg folate, 30 mcg vitamin B12
The MegaFood iron supplement is one of the most popular options on Amazon, boasting more than 15,000 customer ratings and an overall rating of 4.7 stars. Each tablet contains 26 milligrams of fermented iron bisglycinate, along with vitamin B12, folate, and the doctor-recommended vitamin C. This vegan-friendly option is also gluten-free and formulated with some USDA-certified organic ingredients. The recommended serving is one tablet per day, and Amazon reviewers have attested that the gentle formula is forgiving on the gastrointestinal system. One shopper wrote, “I’ve taken on a full stomach and empty stomach, and have not experienced any discomfort with either choice,” and another summarized: “No gastrointestinal distress, easy to swallow and does what it promises, at least for me.” The supplement also meets the National Sanitation Foundation’s cGMP practices. You can shop it as a bottle of 60 tablets (as pictured above), or in bottles of 30, 90, and 180 tablets.
One reviewer wrote: “This product is great for vegans and people who want to stop dealing with the affects of normal iron pills. I have been anemic all my life, went to the doctors for an annual and my iron is finally in the ‘normal range’ I have been buying this product for almost a year now and will keep continuing to use!”
2. The budget-friendly tablets
- Amount per serving: 18 mg iron (ferrous bisglycinate)
These budget-friendly iron supplements keep things simple. Each supplement of the vegan formula delivers 18 milligrams of ferrous bisglycinate — and that’s the only active ingredient included. They’re vegan and gluten-free, and made without artificial ingredients and preservatives, too. The manufacturer recommends one tablet per day, and if you stick to the number, one bottle should last you about six months. While it’s not specified to be a gentle formula, multiple Amazon reviewers reported experiencing few to no unwanted side effects, like one who claimed that they “don’t upset my stomach like many other versions of iron do.” Plus, it’s made in a GMP-compliant facility in the U.S.
One reviewer wrote: “I am so happy that I found these. I have been searching for a vegan iron and all I could find were supplements with added things like biotin or Vitamin A. I didn’t need that. These supplements have increased my iron levels almost immediately. My energy has returned and unlike most iron pills, they do not constipate me.”
3. The liquid supplement
- Amount per serving: 18 mg iron (ferrous bisglycinate chelate)
If you’re pill-averse, consider MaryRuth’s liquid iron supplement. Each serving of the vegan formula contains 18 milligrams of iron bisglycinate. It comes in a berry flavor to make it go down easier, but it skips out on artificial colors and gluten. Made for both adults and kids over 4 years old, this supplement has a standard serving of up to 1 tablespoon per day, but it comes with a dosage chart so you can control your intake according to your doctor’s recommendations. Many Amazon reviewers agreed the liquid isn’t just easy to take, but also easy on the gut. One reviewer surmised they experienced “no yucky aftertaste, side effects, or gut discomfort.” What’s more, it’s manufactured in a GMP-compliant facility.
One reviewer wrote: “The flavor on this is way better than I imagined it would be. I was worried of a taste a bit like cough syrup, but it really didn’t. The berry flavor is nice and natural. It’s just a little bit sweet too. [...] Being on a vegan diet means that you need more iron than the average person. This has been a great way to supplement because it doesn’t taste weird and you don’t have to swallow a giant [pill] it’s really, really great.”
4. The iron gummies
- Amount per serving: 5 mg iron (ferrous fumarate), 9 mcg vitamin A, 15 mg vitamin C, 2 mg vitamin B3, 0.4 mg vitamin B6, 30 mcg folate, 0.34 mcg vitamin B12, 2 mcg biotin, 1 mg vitamin B5, 0.17 mg zinc
It can be a challenge to find gummy supplements that are made without gelatin, but these iron gummies are both vegan and kid-friendly. Each gummy supplement contains 5 milligrams of iron, along with vitamin C, multiple forms of vitamin B, biotin, folic acid, and zinc. The formula includes ferrous fumarate rather than iron bisglycinate — so it might not be the best option for sensitive stomachs — but some Amazon shoppers found that it didn’t cause digestive issues. “I take these as an adult with low Iron,” wrote one reviewer. “Every other supplement I've tried has killed my stomach. These do not bother my stomach at all and bloodwork confirms my iron is increasing ....slowly, but without side effects.”
This supplement is made in a cGMP-certified facility. However, it does contain sweeteners, which lends it its sweet strawberry flavor. (You can also choose from plain strawberry jam and cola flavors.) While the gummies are packaged for children, they’re suitable for adults, too — just keep in mind that you’ll probably need to eat several gummies to get the same amount of iron as a pill, and it could end up being a more costly option because of that.
One reviewer wrote: “Being a vegetarian family, getting a consistent amount of iron can be difficult to get throughout the week. Both of my kids, 10 and 5 years old, love these vitamins and, as a result, we’ve incorporated them into a regular part of our day.”
AbuHashim, H. (2017). Efficacy of Iron Bisglycinate in Treatment of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnant Women, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03378791
Stoffel, N., Siebenthal, H., Moretti, D., Zimmermann, M. (2020). Oral iron supplementation in iron-deficient women: How much and how often?, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0098299720300364
Trumbo, P., Yates AA., Schlicker S., Poos, M.(2001). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222309/