The Best Vegan Foods That Increase Iron For An Easier, Healthier Period

A ceramic bowl filled with healthy food, including grains, legumes, leafy greens and half an avocado.

First of all, lets debunk one huge myth about vegan foods and supplements — that they are not as nutritious as non-vegan foods. This is actually quite the opposite!

Getting rid of animal-based products and instead eating plant-based food has many advantages to your health and is known to lower your risk of diabetes, cancer and many other illnesses.

Going plant-based is a chance to get creative and eat a healthily balanced range of food. Studies have linked eating meat, eggs and dairy with inflammatory reactions inside the body and going vegan can help ease many pains, including period pains! Some people have also reported reduced PMS symptoms and lighter menstrual flow since going vegan.

Dark chocolate Why is Iron Intake so important, when you're on your period?

When you're on your period, your body is losing blood so you'll want to make sure you're getting enough iron. Even though most women lose only a relatively small amount of blood on their period (between 1 and 5 tablespoons on average), heavy periods can be a common cause of iron deficiency anaemia. Therefore, taking steps to keep your iron levels within a healthy range whilst on your period is always a good idea.

Luckily there are plenty of great vegan foods that are high in iron! So, if you don’t want those cramps to keep coming and you want to feel good on your period, here’s our list of tasty vegan foods to include in each meal of the day.

8 Vegan Foods to eat on your period to Increase Iron

1. Lentils

A small burlap sack of dried red lentils, with a wooden scoop.
Just one cup of lentils contains 6.5mg of iron which is a third of your daily intake. Lentils are ranked 2nd based on their protein content after soybeans, and contain 18 grams of protein per serving.

2. Nuts and seeds

A glass bowl filled with an array of nuts and seeds, against an orange gradient background.
Different nuts and seeds have different levels of nutrients but some of the best are Brazil nuts which have 100% of the daily recommended intake for selenium — a nutrient that prevents against heart disease and cancer. According to the popular nutrition app, Eat this Much, a handful of mixed nuts contains 1 mg of Iron — 9% of your recommended daily intake!

3. Avocados

A halved avocado, freshly cut and with the pit still inside, pictured against a light pink background.
Avocados contain super high levels of potassium, even higher than bananas! With 16% of your recommended daily protein intake, avocados will keep you feeling alert and help to reduce your cramps.

4. Calcium fortified drinks

A carton of Oatly barista edition oat milk, next to a glass mug of white coffee.
Many plant-based milks like oat, almond, rice and soya are fortified with calcium. This helps you to achieve your recommended daily intake and can help improve your mood and release your menstrual cramps. Our absolute fave is Oatly Barista oat milk — creamy and delicious! A single cup of Oatly contains 2% of your daily recommended intake of Iron, and a whopping 25% of your recommended calcium intake!

5. Dark chocolate

Roughly cut chunks of dark chocolate, on a white surface.
If you are craving chocolate during your period, eat it! Chocolate can affect the levels in the brain, making you feel happier and more relaxed. It is also high in calories, giving you a lot of energy, and contains lots of iron and potassium, two minerals that your body needs in increased amounts during your period. If you want to receive all the health benefits of chocolate, try to consume good quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.

6. Leafy Greens

Fresh, leafy greens which are cut and carefully laid on a gingham cloth.
Dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach are a great part of any diet as they are packed with valuable vitamins and minerals. Kale and spinach are both high in magnesium, which helps to relieve PMS symptoms, reduce period cramps and improve digestion. They're low in calories and can be eaten every day, allowing you to boost your vitamins and load up your minerals!

7. Bananas

A banana with its skin partly peeled to reveal the inner fruit, pictured against a light, muted orange background.
Bananas might just be the perfect snack for your period! They contain potassium which helps reduce cramps, as well as magnesium and vitamin B6, which can improve your mood and reduce bloating. Bananas can also help to regulate your digestive system!

8. Black beans

A blue ceramic bowl filled with black beans, and a large metal serving spoon
Black beans are a great source of iron and zinc. Zinc has been shown to reduce period pain when taken in the lead up to menstruation and our bodies need an increased supply of iron when menstruating, to make up for the blood lost. You can use black beans in creative ways when making plant-based meals but some of our fave recipes include vegan nachos and black bean burgers!

Can a heavy menstrual flow cause iron deficiency or anaemia?

If you have heavy periods, you are more likely to suffer from anaemia because your body is losing more blood, which means your iron levels will be lower than they should be. A heavy flow usually means that you will soak through a regular pad or tampon every hour or you bleed for longer than a week.

If this sounds like your menstrual flow, you can look at taking supplements to increase your iron intake during your period, but as always, we recommend speaking to your doctor if there's anything you're worried about!

What are the risks of low iron levels on your period?

Low iron levels, which are more likely to occur during or after a heavy period, can cause a range of unwanted symptoms. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Low energy levels
  • Pale skin
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

If iron supplements and dietary changes don’t seem to be having an effect in treating these symptoms, you should speak to your GP to see if these could be symptoms of another underlying condition.

Can vegan iron supplements help during your period?

If you want to improve your iron levels even further whilst on your period, supplements are easy to take and there's lots to choose from! There are many vegan supplement gummies and tablets available that are tasty and will help to boost your vitamins and minerals whilst reducing your cramps and pains!

Vegan diet and Menstruation

Although some people express concerns about getting the right nutrition on a vegan diet, the consensus among health professionals is that a vegan diet can be perfectly balanced and healthy

New vegans may want to pay careful attention to the amount of protein they are getting, and seek out supplements for certain vitamins which vegan diets tend to lack, such as B12. However, there is no reason that a vegan diet should have a negative impact on your health, or your period. 

Our advice to vegans who menstruate would be to:

  • Pay attention to how much iron you have in your diet, as well as protein, vitamin B12 and omega 3.
  • Eat foods which are rich in iron, such as leafy greens, legumes, and tofu.
  • Where necessary, use herbal supplements to add extra vitamins and minerals into your diet.
  • Look into vegan and low-impact menstrual products, such our range of eco-friendly period pants.

Vegan period products: how to manage your period 

Now that you know how to use high-iron vegan foods to help you manage your period, you may also be interested in some planet-friendly methods of managing your period. At fluxies, we’re proud of our commitment to sustainability, and have developed our range of period products from high-quality vegan materials. 

We offer a wide range of reusable period pants, with styles to suit every body and every period. Many of our products come in several varieties, to suit people who have extra light periods, to those who experience a super heavy flow. With underwear styles that include boxer shorts, briefs, thongs, and more, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect pair for you, which also help to reduce negative impact on the environment. 

For more helpful guides and tips to manage your period, feel free to browse our other articles over on the fluxies blog.