Iron status of vegetarians

Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 May;59(5 Suppl):1233S-1237S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/59.5.1233S.


An appropriately planned well-balanced vegetarian diet is compatible with an adequate iron status. Although the iron stores of vegetarians may be reduced, the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia in vegetarians is not significantly different from that in omnivores. Restrictive vegetarian diets (eg, macrobiotic) are associated with more widespread iron-deficiency anemia. Western vegetarians who consume a variety of foods have a better iron status than do those in developing countries who consume a limited diet based on unleavened, unrefined cereals. Whereas phytates, polyphenolics, and other plant constituents found in vegetarian diets inhibit nonheme-iron absorption, vitamin C, citric acid, and other organic acids facilitate nonheme-iron absorption.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Nutritional Status*


  • Iron