The Safety of Heme vs. Nonheme Iron

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Reader Comments

  1. atizeg

    Make sure there is vitamin C present when you take iron tablets (if you have to supplement). Vit C helps the absorbtion of iron and also helps to eliminate the excess if you had too much iron.

  2. dokehannah

    My grandmother had a stroke and the doctor told her not to eat salt. Meat was never mentioned to her and that surprised me.

  3. Plants and Planes

    I went thru a difficult time in my life when I was donating my blood plasma regularly just to get by (most places pay you $20 for your donation) and I was turned down half the time though because of my iron being too low (they always get a blood sample before you can give). The only way I could get clearance to donate was if I ate some red meat before I went in. But it was a roller coaster effect. I never had STEADY iron levels. But when I went completely plant based I never had another problem with my iron again. Seriously, I've never had a bad iron levels on a blood test since being on a WFPB lifestyle.
    YAY PLANT IRON!!!!!!! 👏🎈🎉🎊

  4. Zoe-Holistic Health

    Anaemia is relatively rare but even in non-anemics low ferritin is extremely common especially in pre menopausal women.   The signs of low ferritin are as bad as anaemia.  I have not been able to maintain good ferritin levels greater than 50 with non-heme iron based foods. A lot of the high iron non-heme foods also contain a lot of oxalates and purines which inhibit iron absorption.  I am not convinced by this study and cancer and heart attack risk…how do you separate the iron from the fact meat has more saturated fat and perhaps more hormones and other factors that could be cancer/heart attack causing?   In the study did they just extract the heme iron or were they eating the whole meat product? Also there are definitely cardiac risks to having low ferritin and/or anaemic so low iron is a risk factor too.

  5. Calvin

    If you're eating greens and beans, you should get enough iron. Supplementing with iron pills or with meat can be dangerous due to iron overload, which literally causes your organs to rust.

  6. Uniform Health

    How well did they control for other elements of red meat. A Heme iron Multi vitamin supplementation would prob be the best way to control for this supposed to any "adjusted" values.


    Did you catch this week’s most popular video on heme vs. non-heme iron? 

    Watch below or click the link to watch on

  8. MedizinCannabis

    Dr. Greger, I highly appreciate your work and learn a lot from your videos. Thank you very much for your precious work!

  9. elite1980s

    One other problem with the 'Blood-based crisp bread' is that it contains rye as one of the ingredients, for someone who suffers from a brain disorder, you should avoid this product as rye, like wheat and barley, contain gluten. Gluten can affect the brain in people but more common in folks who do have a brain issue like Parkinson disease sufferers.

  10. Ryan Morrison

    Great video!
    Could you please do a video on Maca and its energising properties and also how to take it safely. This would be great to know as an athlete.
    Thank you.

  11. HighCarb Schwabe

    Vegetarians who consume lots of milk/dairy products are indeed at a higher risk for iron deficiency because these foods reduce iron bioavailibility.

  12. Betsy Cosmos

    First of all, just another reason to avoid all animal products, people!  Secondly, gag me — bread, cookies and other products with animal blood in them?  Yuck!

  13. swites

    So annoying! Whenever we get a "spokesperson" nutritionist on TV or the radio in NZ they always go on about the anaemia risk for vegetarians. "Oh you have to be really careful if you're a vegetarian/vegan because you don't get enough animal heme iron so you've got a good chance of being anaemic". They always then go on to say its because heme iron from meat is twice as easily absorbed. 
    One has to wonder how a "respected go to" nutritionist can be so uneducated with these widely held but completely wrong and outdated beliefs about the superiority of heme based animal iron! Nice to see some good research in the topic 🙂

  14. Linda Warner

    Ok great. I get it. So what would you recommend for someone who has had very, very low iron for at least 2 years? My ferritin is 5. What whole foods protocol would you recommend to elevate this more quickly? And what can I do to increase absorption of nonheme iron?

    Thank you. I am totally open to a whole food solution but have not seen a single protocol for what to do in my situation. Your expertise is welcomed.

  15. Ivan B

    BAD ASS video! I just referenced it to a commenter on my video and always can count on the reliable Dr. Greger! I recall in nutrition courses back in 2000-2004, professors talked about heme-iron being good and how plant-foods don't have them, thus justifying meat intake. What a crock of **. Luckily I've been vegan for 3-years straight now and if anything, my stamina is much much better than before.

  16. Melissa Paras

    Just had a brief lesson on vegetarianism/veganism in Food and Nutrition class and the fact that my teacher is sharing information communicating the supposed superiority of the heme iron found in animal products versus the nonheme iron in plant foods is killing me. I decided to check this video out after the lesson and, unsurprisingly, plant-based foods are clearly proven to be the better option. How could I politely present this information to my teacher? I really don't want to offend her. 😣 She also brought up the issue for calcium deficiency in vegans and, additionally, stressing how extremely difficult it is to manage one's health eating this way due to the lack of animal products. 😓 Help anyone?

  17. D N

    Unless you have a health problem where despite your iron levels being up (from plant based iron) but still have issues because your hemoglobin is down, then the "Heme Iron" is going to be of benefit. The world we live in is so unbalanced and scientific research is often published by those who are financially motivated to release the type of data being featured. There comes a point when we all have to start reading between the lines and quit just accepting everything we read that is "SUPPOSED" to be supported by scientific data using complex wording couple with vague things like "it is believed by some experts" or "the data SEEMS to suggest" and then they say whatever they want. Ultimately it is up to the individual to become their own advocate and educate themselves so that they don't become a dupe to the latest scheme, even by mainstream media and health organizations who are themselves victims of those with the most to invest. Something to watch out for is a source that rattles off so many statistics that they overwhelm individuals who are trying to do research in a complex way that makes the consumer say; "I think that makes sense, they are the experts so I will just do what they say?" If we don't really understand it, should we just trust implicitly those who are making truck loads of money off our consumerism? How many of us trust Car Salesmen?

    There's lots of information that points to heme Iron as being more readily absorbed as opposed to ferrous or elemental iron. Not that that elemental iron is bad, but to say Heme iron will give you heart disease like margarine or others severely bad fats will should give us pause and have us question what the motive of the source really is. But again moderation, not having more than we need is important, everything that's good for us has therapeutic levels (or levels that we benefit from) so figuring out what those are for our personal health issues is crucial. Balance in all things and realizing what works for us may not be good for someone else is also important to remember.

  18. PressPause 2Play

    THE QUESTION IS, IS THIS PERSON REPORTING IN THE VIDEO A "VEGAN/VEGETARIAN" because I find their whole reporting energy to be biased and purposefully leaves out extra explainable commentary that go on to clear up misconceptions. So I don't like getting any news from vegans as they always have an agenda and do not leave their bias out. I don't come to be converted I come to get honest open really intelligent reviews and reporting. I just find that many things are purposely left out when they speak about anything apposing to vegi life when they report because they want you to walk away feeling warm and buttery about being vegan or vegetarian. I get it. There's a mission. But they end up misleading people and fear mongering to get everybody on board. They're no different than radical religious people. Same crap, different titles.

    Either way, my concern was if this report was talking about whether the Heme iron intake in meat was more at risk because of ingesting meat directly? Or the iron is actually causing this??
    Because there is more than one way to ingest heme iron. They have liver capsules and other heme based bio available powder and capsules you can buy. So I'm just wondering would these options bi pass the dangers of ingesting heme iron? Because that seems like that would have naturally just been explained. But when the agenda to convert people, then any alternatives other than veganism will be cast upon swine and left unmentioned.

    Are Liver Supplements which are loaded with heme iron the safest alternative to ingesting meat based iron? That's all I wanted to know:)

    Im going to finish the video to see if this addressed more clearly. If not I'm just going to keep searching. Thanks for ur video 🙂

  19. ilkaJoester Person

    I did I get out of this video that
    1. You can get enough iron from plant based diets
    2. Even though heme iron is absorbed faster this isn't better because there is no need to absorb iron faster
    3. Iron from meat is a risk for diseases such as cancer and diabetes
    But I have one question left: Doesn't the human body need heme iron or is It capable of producing It itself?

  20. David Coley

    Half of the non heme foods just listed which provide the most protein for non meat diets carry dangerous amounts of lectin… Which causes heart disease.

  21. Dirk Tanner

    My mother of 60 has been eating plant based for several years now and has great fitness, cholesterol levels. Yet she is low on iron and is blood bruising very easily. She already eats a ton of beans, greens, and other vegetables high in iron. She isn’t iron anemic but is low. What should she do?

  22. Dipen Patel

    I'm plant based and I appreciate what Dr. Gregger's content, but damn is he biased when it comes to covering risks of plant based diets. I just checked his channel and in this video specifically, there is no mention of non heme iron being more difficult to absorb. But he does have videos bashing heme iron and iron supplements. I think you shouldn't rely on this guy for all your information. Check some more moderate sources out as well.

    edit: I checked his website ( He does mention it, but never the less it is pretty hidden compared to the heme iron bashing.

  23. Zephyr López Cervilla

    Dietary iron intake and body iron stores are associated with risk of coronary heart disease in a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.
    Is heme iron intake associated with risk of coronary heart disease? A meta-analysis of prospective studies.
    Heme iron intake and risk of stroke: a prospective study of men.
    Dietary iron intake, body iron stores, and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
    Iron and cancer risk–a systematic review and meta-analysis of the epidemiological evidence.
    Heme-related gene expression signatures of meat intakes in lung cancer tissues.

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