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  • Writer's pictureJenny Nguyen

9 secret nutrients to eliminate anemia in plant-based eater.

Having the urge to get the third cup of coffee even though you slept 8 hours last night? Why are you so tired? As a young woman, you expect to have lots of energy. It’s not normal to be so exhausted like this all the time. 

Thoughts running through your head, “Am I stressed with the project due in 3 days? Is it because I didn’t exercise at all this week? Am I worrying too much? Am I pregnant? Oh God! I sure hope not. Was it because I ate the whole Uncle Tetsu cheesecake for dinner yesterday?”

There are many factors that could make you to feel tired. Yes, the food you eat, what you don’t eat, and the amount you eat makes a difference. Not exercising can contribute to your stamina as well. Negative thinking definitely zap your energy.

But wait, these are controllable factors. Things you can do something about. Since my focus is on nutrition. I’m going to share with you a condition that is very common in women, anemia. I’ve seen too many young women come in with signs and symptoms of it and not know what to do besides taking the iron pill their doctor told them to.

What is anemia? Anemia is a condition where there is not enough healthy red blood cells. The red blood cell contains 4 iron parts and it carries oxygen throughout the body. Lack of iron is a form of anemia. It's no wonder you feel so tired when your iron is low, see how vital the role it plays? Other forms of anemia can be from a lack of folic acid and/or vitamin B12. These nutrients play a role in making and proper function of the red blood cell.  Other supporting nutrients of healthy red blood cells includes: isoleucine, histidine, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), biotin (vitamin B7), vitamin C, and Para-Aminobenzoic acid (PABA). You can see that just by taking an iron pill in itself may not be enough if there are other missing supporting nutrients.

Signs and symptoms of anemia includes: pale skin, weakness, brittle nails, hair loss, lightheaded, dizziness, fast heart beat, short of breath, and feeling cold easily.

The recommended dietary allowance iron for premenopausal women 18mg/day. If you are anemic and/or pregnant, the amount is higher. Anemia is more common in the vegetarian population than in carnivores. Being a vegetarian is a great idea for many health reasons, but just because being a vegetarian doesn’t automatically mean you are healthy. I know vegetarians who eat French fries, chips, and toast. These foods lack the nutrients that I mentioned above to help prevent anemia. Not only being low in nutrients, those food also rob your body of reserved nutrients in order to break them down for usage. That’s why it’s important if you are a vegetarian or plant-based eater to choose your food wisely. Because you do have a choice in what you decide to eat or not. Here are some suggestions:

1.      Eat whole food first.  

2.      Reduce processed food as they are lower in nutrients, higher in calories, have many additives, preservatives, added sugar, food coloring, and other fillers that can negatively affect the gut microbiomes. A side note, the cheesecake and dairy products have calcium that can interfere with the absorption of iron. It also has lactose, a form of sugar, which a majority (65-70%) of the world's population are sensitive or allergic to.

3.      Include more green vegetables. They are excellent source of fiber, folic acid, iron, and antioxidants to help support the gut and your red blood cells.

4.      Combine food that are iron rich with vitamin C to help increase the iron absorption. Food rich in iron includes: Bok choy, spinach, Swiss chard, collards, leeks, and lentils. Food rich in vitamin C includes: Bell peppers, oranges, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, strawberries, blueberries, kale, and kiwis.

Tannins (a polyphenol) can block the absorption of non-heme iron in your plant-based food. Tannins are commonly found in some of North American’s favorite drinks such as coffee, green tea, and red wine.

Here are plant-based sources of the nutrients mentioned above:

Vitamin B12: Brewer’s yeast. Fortified almond milks. Shiitake mushrooms.

Folic acid: Beets, cauliflower, asparagus, and dark green vegetables.

Biotin (B7): Fenugreek, avocados, alfalfa, sunflower seeds, avocados, sweet potatoes, peanuts, almonds, and Swiss chard.

Pyridoxine (B6): Banana, broccoli, acorn squash, potatoes, bell peppers, and garlic.

Isoleucine (an essential amino acid): nuts, seeds, and lentils.

Histidine (another essential amino acid): Apples, beets, carrots, cucumber, garlic, spinach, and pomegranates.

PABA: Whole grains, mushrooms, and spinach.

Check out my video on TikTok for another tip for plant-based smoothie to help reduce the risk of anemia. I hope what I’m sharing helps you live healthier, love more, and do what matters most. Your health is within your hands. Create your fate, one bite at a time.

Your friend,


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