It turns out I have a lot to say about iron consumption for women, probably because it comes from personal experience, but for the purpose of this post, I will keep my writing about the recipe itself and not delve too much into iron. I am currently experiencing mildly low iron due to previous pregnancy and extended breastfeeding. For the most part, I am not symptomatic except for fatigue during my period and on occasion post menstrual headaches. My last blood test revealed mildly low iron and my doctor suggested supplementing with iron for 3 months. However, as you may know, I can not take any supplements because I react quite badly to them. I tried to take iron in pregnancy and I got the worst reaction ever which involved horrible vomiting and rash. I have been thinking up different ways to get my iron up without relying on supplementation. I know that my iron responds very well to dietary changes and so am going to become more mindful of eating an iron-rich plant-based diet and make sure I take these little gummies every day. I have experimented with a lot of different ways to get my iron up (especially in pregnancy) and have finally settled on this. It’s something that my body can tolerate and is easy for me to incorporate into my life. It’s not overly pleasant tasting, but it definitely does not taste bad and is very easy to eat.
There are a few key ingredients to this recipe:
Spatone: spatone is a natural iron-rich water from North Wales in the UK. It is water that has a naturally high concentration of iron and is sold in a box of little sachets. (My midwife recommended this to me in pregnancy and it was the only iron I could tolerate) Each sachet contains about 5ml of elemental iron. This is actually not a lot at all since most supplements contain about 18mg, however, because it is natural it is very gentle on the system, does not really have side effects (at least not on me and I am the most sensitive person ever with supplements) and is much more easily absorbed in the body. The recommended dose for women is 1-2 sachets a day. I have only used 1 sachet in this recipe because I am quite sensitive, but it is ok to use 2 or more if you would like a bigger hit of iron in your gummies.
Molasses: molasses is a byproduct of sugar cane and is surprisingly a high source of easily absorbed plant iron. I am not a fan of the taste of molasses (unless it’s in gingerbread cookies) but it is an easy way to get more iron into the diet. Many women use molasses an iron supplement because it is gentle and effective and provides many other nutrients as well. One tablespoon of molasses contains about 1 mg of iron, this may vary on the brand and quality of the molasses you buy so make sure to choose a good one (I’ve linked a brand I have used before further down)
Orange Juice: orange juice serves as the base to this recipe, it is high in vitamin C which helps with iron absorption. Vitamin c eaten with iron has been shown to increase the absorption of iron fourfold.
Agar-Agar powder: this is the vegan gelling agent and replaced gelatin. It is a little tricky to get used to but works very well. It does not set as hard as gelatin, so the gummies are not as chewy but they still have a great texture.
Optional Liquid Herbs: I am not very knowledgable on herbs but I picked up some liquid herbs specifically designed to help iron absorption from the compounding chemist. These are not necessary. Until I found this chemist I did not even know that herbal tinctures like this existed. The herbs in my formulation are Withania, codonopsis, and nettle. If you are familiar with herbs than you can use them, if not it is totally ok to leave them out.
You are also free to play around with the flavours and add other little bits and pieces to increase iron eg. spirulina
The amount of iron in each gummy will depend on the molds that you use. My molds had 15 hearts, this makes each gummy have roughly 0.5mg iron. Although this isn’t much, because it is natural and mixed with factors that help absorption it should be highly absorbable, and side effect free. You can, of course, eat more than one a day and also add more spatone to the mixture to increase iron. Keep in mind that the recommended intake for a menstruating woman is about 18mg a day. Most of this should come from diet, not supplementation. Because I am sensitive, I am keeping my recipe lower dose just to make sure but plan to increase over time. I think just having them there has given me peace of mind that I’m taking control of my iron and it’s helped me relax a bit. I’ve tried many different experiments with high iron recipes like smoothies and juices, but they have been very difficult for me to drink and stick to. This is by far the easiest option for me. If you think it will work for you too, give it a go, experiment and make it your own and let me know what you think!
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free
|Vegan DIY Iron Supplement Gummies|| |
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 1-2 packets spatone iron-rich water
- 2 TBSP molasses
- 10-20 drops liquid herbs for iron absorption (optional- I used Withania, codonopsis, and nettle)
- 1 TBSP vanilla extract
- 2 TBSP agar agar powder
- If making your own juice, juice your oranges and measure out 1 cup ( you can use store-bought juice as well)
- Place orange juice in a saucepan, add spatone water, optional liquid herbs vanilla and molasses. Whisk to combine molasses into juice.
- add agar powder and whisk to incorporate
- Heat on stove over low heat until the mixture comes to a simmer, whisking continuously. Once simmering, keep whisking for 3 minutes and remove from heat
- Transfer mixture evenly into gummy molds of choice and place in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set. Agar generally takes about 30 minutes to set in the fridge, however my mixture set really quickly. If yours takes a little longer, allow the full 30 minutes. Remove from molds and consume as needed