Iron in Vegetarians: Identifying Common Inhibitors

Iron in Vegetarians: Identifying Common Inhibitors

Posted by Pharmics on 11th Aug 2022

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on how vegetarians can ensure they're getting enough iron in their diet. Some vegetarians will naturally have lower iron levels due to the foods they eat and lower levels of iron found in them, but there are some simple methods that will help you avoid this risk while still maintaining your vegetarian lifestyle.

At Pharmics Inc., we're happy to offer quality iron supplements that serve as one major resource for vegetarians and many other people who might be dealing with low iron levels. While part one of our series went over how to add iron to your diet as a vegetarian, today's part two will look at the flip side: Some of the most common inhibitors of iron intake and absorption in vegetarians, plus how to avoid consuming them in too large a quantity.


When we talk about tannins, we're referring to a class of compounds that are commonly found in foods and drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine. Tannins can bind to iron and other minerals in the gastrointestinal tract, making it more difficult for the body to absorb them.

If you're a vegetarian who regularly consumes tannins, you might want to cut back or at least try to consume them at different times than when you're also eating foods high in iron. For example, drinking coffee or tea an hour or more after a meal can help reduce the chance that the tannins will inhibit iron absorption.


Another common inhibitor of iron absorption is zinc. While zinc is an essential mineral that the body needs in small amounts, too much zinc can reduce the amount of iron that the body absorbs.

To combat this, it's important to note that you don't have to cut out all zinc from your diet in order to avoid this issue. Instead, be sure to consume a variety of zinc-rich foods throughout the day rather than consuming large quantities of zinc all at once. This will help ensure that your body absorbs enough iron while still getting the benefits of zinc.


Another mineral that's important for the body, but that cannot be overdone when it comes to iron absorption, is calcium. Like zinc, calcium can reduce the amount of iron that the body absorbs if consumed in large quantities.

To avoid this problem, you can typically eat most of the same foods you would already -- but avoid any kind of additional calcium supplementation on top of this, as this can lead to the problem.

For more on the iron absorption inhibitors that may sometimes impact vegetarians, or for information on any of our iron supplements and related products, speak to the team at Pharmics Inc. today.