Best Iron Supplements
Do you get enough vitamins, minerals, and nutrients into your body?
Well, if that's a yes, we reckon you can't be consistent all the time. Sometimes we can have off days or just live a busy lifestyle that we don't consume an adequate amount. One mineral, in particular, we can often fall short on is iron.
What is iron?Iron is an essential mineral that is required by your body to grow and develop. It's usually located in every cell of the body and for that reason is classed as one of the most important minerals for us to have.
How does iron work?
Your body needs iron, so it can make hemoglobin (a protein) which is required by red blood cells. Red blood cells transport hemoglobin to other essential areas of your body. Similarly, when we inhale oxygen, the iron in the hemoglobin also combines to form oxyhemoglobin.
Conditions that can be treated
If people lack a substantial amount of iron in their bloodstream, it could be due to many factors, which can easily be treated through iron supplements. The typical conditions people take iron supplements for are:
- Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath is often a major cause of iron deficiency due to the lack of oxygen being inhaled and being transported to muscles and tissues. Therefore, little iron can cause you to get out of breath and tired quicker. Iron supplements help replenish the oxygen levels and allow you to have better breathing.
- Palpitations: When you have low iron, your heart has to work harder to pump oxygenated blood around the body. Due to the extra work, irregular heartbeats can occur and sometimes beat too fast, giving the sensation of palpitations. Iron helps this by allowing it to have an ample supply of hemoglobin in the bloodstream.
- Weakness and fatigue: As the body's tissues and muscles contain less oxygen, many people become extremely weak and concentrate less. Some iron supplements can help this and allow people to regain energy levels slowly.
Finally, by taking regular iron supplements, you can reduce your risk of getting disorders like anemia. To know more, take a quick look at our top 10 product list on the best iron supplements.
Types of supplements
There are many types of iron supplements which are:
- Ferrous sulfate: Ferrous sulfate is one type of iron that is commonly found in the foods you consume. Regarding iron supplements, ferrous sulfate usually comes in the form of drops, tablets, or capsules for swallowing. This is a common supplement to get on prescription or buy over the counter from your local pharmacy. It's commonly advised to take it if you're suffering from anemia or low iron from pregnancy. It's also recommended to take on an empty stomach or with orange juice, as vitamin C helps aid iron absorption.
- Ferric sulfate: Another iron supplement is ferric sulfate which often is a yellowish-gray color. This type of iron supplement is commonly used in dentistry and dermatology to help iron bind to proteins in the blood.
- Ferric citrate: This type of iron supplement is commonly used to help people who have low iron levels when on kidney dialysis. Similarly, it's given to people suffering from iron deficiency anemia who also have chronic kidney disease.
- Ferrous gluconate: Ferrous gluconate is an iron supplement that contains around 12% of iron. It's one of the standard iron supplements for anemia.
Best food sources
If you're not a fan of taking supplements, you can also get your iron intake from food sources. Typical foods you can consume are the following:
- Shellfish: In particular, shellfish like oysters and muscles contain a high amount of heme iron. As opposed to some iron sources from plants, your body can consume this much easier. A 100-gram serving provides 17% of iron. Shellfish also help increase healthy cholesterol levels in your blood.
- Spinach: While low in calories, raw spinach provides so much iron, around 2.7mg for every 100grams. It's high in Vitamin C, which helps boost iron absorption by the body. It's also high in antioxidants.
- Legumes: Legumes like beans, peas, nuts, and lentils contain high levels of iron. They contain folate, potassium, and magnesium which is healthy for the body.
- Red meat: A 100-gram serving of beef contains 2.7mg of iron. Red meat also has high levels of zinc, protein, and selenium.
- Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are high in iron, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin K. They contain around 2.5mg of iron for every 28gram serving and are extremely portable to carry around, meaning you can top up your iron on the go!
- Quinoa: This is a healthy grain which when cooked, can contain quite a bit of iron. Around 185 grams of cooked quinoa can contain 2.8mg of iron. It also has no gluten and has other healthy minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, and folate.
- Broccoli: Broccoli has a lot of iron and vitamin C in, around 1 mg of iron for every 156-gram cup. It also contains vitamin K and folate.
- Tofu: This is a portion of vegetarian soy-based food that is common in many Asian countries and across the world. Around 126 grams i.e., a half-cup serving contains around 3.4mg of iron and has 22grams of protein. It also has other minerals, including thiamine, calcium, magnesium, and melamine.
- Dark chocolate: We bet dark chocolate isn't one of the first types of food that jump to your mind when it comes to iron! If you consume 28 grams of dark chocolate, you will have around 3.4mg of iron entering your bloodstream, other gut minerals, and prebiotic fibers.
There are a lot of benefits to taking iron supplements which are the following:
- Pregnancy: When pregnant, women's bodies use more iron to produce additional blood (hemoglobin) for their babies. It's believed that pregnancy can increase your blood circulation by an extra 50% and requires additional iron to be consumed. Iron supplements can help a woman's body adapt to pregnancy and provide enough nutrients to the baby.
- Heavy periods: Heavy menstrual bleeding is a condition also known as menorrhagia. This condition causes severe iron loss, and even low iron levels can contribute to this condition. Iron supplements help replace the losses and restore the body's natural iron levels.
- People with cancer: Many cancer patients, when undergoing treatment, can easily become iron deficient. As a result, iron supplements are provided to them in intravenous drip, which helps prevent anemia and stops anemia from getting worse. It can also help stop the proliferation of red blood cells.
- Gastrointestinal disorders: Those who have low iron levels could easily develop gastrointestinal disorders. In these disorders, additional iron is stored in the glands, and hemosiderin deposits are produced, damaging gastric mucous. As a result, oral iron supplements help restore iron levels to the body and reduce the risk of gastritis.
Just like all types of medications and supplements, you can be prone to specific side effects which are:
- Brown/black dark stool;
- Urine discoloration.
Most of the time, iron supplements are safe when taken by mouth, but you can experience the side effects stated above. If you do have any of the following above, consult the advice of a doctor immediately.
Precautions and warnings
Iron is best consumed on an empty stomach or with orange juice as vitamin C helps the absorption.
The general recommendations for taking iron supplements are:
- 19-50 years old: 8mg a day for males, 18mg a day for females.
- Pregnant women: 30mg a day.
- Breastfeeding women: 9mg a day.
- 50-year-olds and above: 8mg a day.
When taking these dosages, do not take them with milk. Milk can stop your body from absorbing iron properly and cause your intestines to lose small amounts of blood, therefore losing iron. Similarly, it would help if you did not take antacids or caffeine, as this can also decrease the amount of iron your body absorbs. Similarly, if you do not have an iron deficiency and want to take iron supplements, you should not take more than 45mg a day. As otherwise, you could experience the side effects mentioned above. If you're also a woman and diabetic, you may want to be careful consuming iron as it can potentially increase your chances of heart disease.
How long should I take it?
On average, it takes around 2-3 weeks for iron supplements to affect your body. Most of the time, your blood count will start to improve around two months, and then you will slowly need to wean off them. Ultimately it depends on the reason you're taking iron supplements, but always consult the advice of your physician, who will inform you when to stop taking them.
Interaction with other medicines
You will want to not take iron and consult with your doctor if you're taking the following medications:
- Antacids like ranitidine, nizatidine, cimetidine, famotidine, pancrepalise, and more.
- Proton Pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, esomeprazole.
- Iron salts.
- Certain antibiotics.
Iron supplements are a widely debated topic within the scientific community. They have been shown to help pregnant women, have heavy periods, and those with cancer. There is a lot of research pending about other conditions it can help. If you're looking to take iron supplements, always speak to a doctor first.
How to take iron supplements for best absorption?
The best way to take iron stomachs is on an empty stomach and ideally with orange juice. Orange juice contains vitamin C, which helps iron to be absorbed more easily. Similarly, you can also take with vitamin c pills.
When is the best time to take iron supplements?
The best time to take iron supplements is in the morning on an empty stomach. If you can take them in the morning, then you should ideally take them 1 hour before your mealtime or 2 hours after you've eaten.
What is the best iron supplement for anemia?
The best iron supplement for anemia can entirely depend on the type of anemia you have and why you have anemia. It can vary and so can the method, to know the one most suitable for you, we recommend speaking to a doctor first.
What is the best iron supplement to take during pregnancy?
The most common iron supplement taken during pregnancy is often ferrous sulphate, around 30 mg. However, the dosage and type can vary based on what side effects you're getting, so always seek advice from a doctor before taking it.
What form of iron supplement is best absorbed?
Heme iron is the type of iron that is the most easily absorbed by the body. Whereas iron supplements the best absorbed, it tends to be administered via intravenous drip as it reaches your bloodstream straight away. The type of iron supplement that your body absorbs the best can differ for each person.
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