As far as I understand, there is a difference in the iron absorbed from meat than from other sources like grains and vegetables.

If this is the case, is it possible that not ingesting the hemoglobin and myoglobin found in meat leads to some kind of deficiency in a protein or iron itself that creates some symptoms similar to anemia, like fatigue or headaches? Or, is the iron found in non-meat products just as viable as that found in meat-based products?

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    $\begingroup$ Your two questions seem unrelated. How is your question on whether non-consumption of myoglobin from meat cause anaemia related to iron content in vegetarian food? Plus, there are other iron containing proteins in the animal body and there are excellent plant-based sources of iron. Your question is not clear to me. $\endgroup$
    Feb 5, 2019 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ I can't take your comment seriously because if you had any knowledge on the subject, you would know your question doesn't make sense, you don't understand the subject well enough to understand what I asked. $\endgroup$
    – Vane Voe
    Feb 5, 2019 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


The following informations is taken this source. It also lists some references. If this doesn't answer your question let me know in the comments.

Iron is found in food in two forms, heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron, which makes up 40 percent of the iron in meat, poultry, and fish, is well absorbed. Non-heme iron, 60 percent of the iron in animal tissue and all the iron in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts) is less well absorbed. Because vegan diets only contain non-heme iron, vegans should be especially aware of foods that are high in iron and techniques that can promote iron absorption. Recommendations for iron for vegetarians (including vegans) may be as much as 1.8 times higher than for non-vegetarians.

Some might expect that since the vegan diet contains a form of iron that is not that well absorbed, vegans might be prone to developing iron deficiency anemia. However, surveys of vegans have found that iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegetarians than among the general population although vegans tend to have lower iron stores.

The reason for the satisfactory iron status of many vegans may be that commonly eaten foods are high in iron.For example, you would have to eat more than 1700 calories of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron as found in 100 calories of spinach.

Another reason for the satisfactory iron status of vegans is that vegan diets are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C acts to markedly increase absorption of non-heme iron. Adding a vitamin C source to a meal increases non-heme iron absorption up to six-fold which makes the absorption of non-heme iron as good or better than that of heme iron.

Fortunately, many vegetables, such as broccoli and bok choy, which are high in iron, are also high in vitamin C so that the iron in these foods is very well absorbed. Commonly eaten combinations, such as beans and tomato sauce or stir-fried tofu and broccoli, also result in generous levels of iron absorption.

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    $\begingroup$ These numbers for spinach are based on an ancient typo, compare also the actual values i.e. on wikipedia. The actual difference between spinach & steak would only be around 1.7x $\endgroup$
    – Nicolai
    Feb 5, 2019 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, so the iron in non-heme sources is less absorbed, but enough of it can still be consumed to match exactly what one would absorb from a quantity of meat. So the source doesn't make a difference as long as a sufficient quantity is absorbed in the end? $\endgroup$
    – Vane Voe
    Feb 5, 2019 at 21:41

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