Plant-based Diet: Iron and Vitamin B12 Intake


Our nutrition expert, Dr Andrea Foti, will talk about how you can include iron and vitamin B12 intake in a plant-based diet.

1. What is iron and what are its functions?

Iron is a macro-element, one of the minerals most commonly found in the body, which is essential for haemoglobin and myoglobin; the former acting as an oxygen-carrying protein and the latter supplying oxygen to the muscles.


2. What iron-rich foods can be included in a plant-based diet as an alternative to meat? And why is it important to incorporate the right amount of iron into the diet?

In a vegetarian or vegan diet, foods such as pulses, cereals, dried fruit or dark leafy vegetables should be included. The form of iron in plant-based foods is less absorbable than in animal-based foods. To solve this problem, we can combine a good source of vitamin C by adding it to legumes or vegetables to facilitate absorption.


3. What is the required amount of iron to be taken in a day and what does a deficiency of it mean in the body?

The daily dose of iron is 14/15 mg, which varies depending on the individual and particular physical conditions such as pregnancy or breastfeeding. Iron deficiency can have various causes such as: iatrogenic (taking metformin drugs, gastric protectors), inflammatory causes (diarrhoea, coeliac disease, intestinal inflammation) or autoimmune diseases resulting in chronic fatigue or anaemia. This is why vitamin B12 must be combined with iron.


4. Speaking of vitamin B12, which (plant) foods require more supplementation?

Vitamin B12 is particularly present in fish, meat, milk, eggs and liver. Those who follow a vegan diet should supplement vitamin B12 in an active form (methylcobalamin) to avoid deficiencies, i.e. by taking it as a supplement.

5. What is vitamin B12 and what benefits does it give our body?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, it is only partially stored by our body, so it must be taken externally via food. Vitamin B12 is important for our body for the production of red blood cells and for iron absorption, which works by protecting the nervous and circulatory systems.

6. Is there a necessary amount of vitamin B12 to be taken daily, if so, what would it be? What are the risk factors resulting from a lower than expected intake of vitamin B12?

Studies report a daily intake of 2-2.4mcg from a normal diet, but it always depends on the individual. Therefore, blood tests should also be evaluated before drawing up a customised diet plan to assess blood levels.

7. Would you like to recommend a vegetable recipe?

Porridge for breakfast: for an energy boost!


*For fruit and dried fruit, the combinations are endless!



In a small saucepan, mix the oat flakes with the vegetable drink.

Place on the stove, stir for 5 minutes and continue cooking for a firmer cream, otherwise add more vegetable drink.


Place everything in a bowl and decorate with strawberries and blueberries.

Then add the dried fruit and fresh fruit and you are ready to start your breakfast!


Many thanks to Dr. Foti for taking the time and professionalism!


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