Can your kids get enough iron on a vegan diet?
Whenever the topic of iron comes up, the solution is always “you need more steak” or “you should be giving your kids more steak”.
But is red meat really the only (and best) source of iron?
After last week’s post looking at Vegan Foods with More Protein than Chicken, I thought I’d look at vegan foods with more iron than a steak this week.
How Much Iron Do Kids Need Each Day?
So first up, how much iron do your kids really need? Down below is a table of how much iron you should be aiming for each day for healthy kids.
|Iron per Day
|7 – 12 months
|1 – 3 years
|4 – 8 years
|9 – 13 years
|14 – 18 years
|9 – 13 years
|14 – 18 years
How Much Iron is in Red Meat?
Now the big question. How much iron is actually in this seemingly essential food – steak?
Well, according to my Nutritionist Food Database Foodworks, one small steak (weighing 155g) has about 2.9mg of iron.
Before we go any further, I need to take this moment to point out that the Australian Dietary Guidelines only recommend 1 – 2 serves of meat or meat substitutes a day for children, and only 2 1/2 for teenage boys, and 1 serve of red meat is 65g. So our 155g steak is well and truly over the recommended daily amount of meat for all kids.
So I’m failing to see the miraculous low-iron curing properties of red meat if one steak only gives you 1/3 of your daily iron requirements….. (If you want an idea of how to get enough iron for your kids in a day, check out my sample meal plan).
Vegan Foods with More Iron than Steak
Last week’s protein challenge was a bit tricky, mainly because a piece of chicken has way more protein than we actually need. Luckily, this week vegan foods with more iron than a piece of steak were really easy!
Down below I’ve made a table of the amount of iron in 155g of different vegan foods.
Yeah, you read that right. Cocoa Powder has 11 times more iron than a steak, and Pumpkin Seeds have 5 times more. So next time someone talks about having low iron, maybe we should suggest they try a hot chocolate and some pumpkin seeds instead? Or even some nuts, or legumes. There are plenty of food options that are much better sources of iron than a steak.
Vegan Recipes with More Iron than a Steak
But, I hear you ask, my kids don’t eat nuts and beans. What am I supposed to do? Well lucky for you, I have a heap of iron packed kid friendly recipes that you can try.
First up are my kids’ favourite two smoothies. The Super Veg Chocolate Smoothie has over 9mg of iron per serve. It’s definitely my go to when I’m worried about my kids’ nutrition. My Chocolate Bean smoothie also has 6.4mg of iron per serve. So it’s a great iron booster too (and I bet your kids will prefer it to a piece of steak!).
As you can see, it’s quite easy to get enough iron on a vegan diet. And we definitely don’t need to be resorting to red meat.
Grab my chart below to learn about the Top 4 Nutrients for Vegan Kids, and what the best foods are to get them.