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Up-Your-Iron Energy Bites

The Irony of Iron Sources

Regardless of diet, iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies worldwide. Yes, regardless of diet.

Meat contains heme iron.

Plants contain non-heme iron.

Heme iron is better absorbed, but it also increases rates of cancer, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

Non-heme iron is plentiful in plants, but is not as bioavailable.

Iron is a double-edged sword. See this helpful video to understand more.

How Much Iron Do You Need in a Day?

The recommended daily intake of iron varies depending on factors such as age, gender, and life stage. Here are the recommended daily allowances for iron. As you can see, of all people, it’s not adult men who “need” to be eating red meat for iron. 😉 They only need about 1/3 the amount recommended for pregnant women.

0-6 months: .27 g

Infants 7-12 months: 11 mg

Children 1-3 years: 7 mg

Children 4-8 years: 10 mg

Children 9-13 years: 8 mg

Boys 14-18 years: 11 mg

Girls 14-18 years: 15 mg

Adult men 19-50 years: 8 mg

Adult women 19-50 years: 18 mg

Pregnant women: 27 mg

Breastfeeding women: 9 mg

When getting all your iron from plant-based sources, aim for more than this since it’s not all absorbed. Eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C to enhance absorption.

For helpful info about helping babies and children get enough iron, check out this article from Plant-Based Juniors.

Can You Get Too Much Iron?

Yes, you can get too much iron! Too much can decrease zinc absorption, and very large amounts can cause inflammation of the stomach lining and ulcers. Iron supplements can cause abdominal pain and nausea. The upper limit for iron is 40-45 mg a day. Find out more about iron from this page from the National Institutes of Health.

My Personal Experience

Even though iron is tricky, it often works out to be just right! Somehow, even though I don’t think much about iron and am not intentional about pairing vitmain C with it, I’ve rarely been low. The time I was low in iron was when I came home from an 18-month mission in Paraguay where I hadn’t eaten plant-based or nutrient-dense. I went to donate blood and my iron was too low to donate. After a few months back on my plant-based green smoothie-rich lifestyle, my iron was high enough again. I’ve had my kids’ levels tested and they’ve also been ideal, and my husband’s, too. During my pregnancies they’ve checked my iron frequently and it’s been good! I think the green smoothies, lentils, whole grains, tofu, nuts and seeds and the vitamin-C-rich fruit we eat frequently are the reason behind our good iron levels. Or maybe it’s luck?!

Now About this Recipe

I looked up all the foods that are high in iron that could be put into an energy ball. Dried apricots are a great source, but I didn’t have any at the moment. So, you could throw some in or eat them on the side. Dates, raisins, molasses, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds are good sources. I added some ginger for a taste that I love, but if you don’t like ginger don’t add that.

Enjoy these with some fruit or other source of vitamin-C to increase absorption! My kids loved how my photo scene became an iron-rich charcuterie board after the photo shoot and gobbled everything up besides the oats.

These are a great gift to a pregnant or nursing mom. The oats and flax seed promote lactation, and the iron and minerals are much-needed.

Each ball also contains 2 grams protein, 3.7 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and lots of B vitamins, folate, and zinc!

Up-Your-Iron Energy Bites
Prep Time
12 mins

Using lots of iron-rich ingredients, these sweet little morsels make an energizing snack.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Keyword: bliss balls, energy balls, iron bites, iron-rich, raw vegan, vegan
Servings: 20 balls
Author: Faithful Plateful
  • 8 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 TBSP molasses
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 TBSP sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 TBSP ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger (omit if you don't love ginger)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor. Run it until it starts to clump into a ball and is sticky enough to roll into balls. Form 20 1-inch balls. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

    Enjoy with fruit or other vitamin-C containing foods to increase iron absorption, knowing each ball contains 1.1 mg of iron. Eat a few!

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