Should You Take Iron Supplement?
Iron deficiency anemia is a major issue among women of childbearing age. Many women try to supplement their diet with lean red meat, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and shellfish; however, many women remain severely deficient in this important supplement. Iron deficiency anemia disrupts the oxygen supply to our vital organs, which can lead to shortness of breath, dizziness, and poor exercise tolerance. As well as fatigue, organ failure and possible heart attack. Always check with your doctor to obtain your blood count and iron levels and iron saturation of your blood. If you find that your iron levels are still lacking on a healthy diet, then you must know what your options are to supplement your iron levels.
Many women fail to obtain the necessary nutrients that their body requires especially due to stresses that menstruation and blood loss place on their bodies. Iron is necessary to transport oxygen by red blood cells. It is important to maintain a healthy iron status during this time when menstruation is present. Iron deficiency anemia is a major reason for doctor visits in the United States. Without enough iron, your body cannot produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath.
Should You Take Iron Supplements?
“Iron is a key mineral for human metabolism. Most of the iron within the body is found in the hemoglobin of the red blood cells which carries oxygen to every part of the body. In addition to that, iron also helps increase your resistance to stress and certain diseases”
Many young, healthy childbearing aged women are at risk of being anemic (low blood count) due to monthly blood loss during menstruation. Iron supplementation is key to avoiding negative symptoms that come along with anemia. Per World Health Organization iron deficiency is the top nutritional disorder affecting 80% of the world’s female population. 1.62 billion people in the world suffer from iron deficiency anemia based on the national institute of health data. In the United States 1 in 10 white women and 1 in 5 non- white females are anemic due to iron deficiency.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include but are not limited to the following:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
What is the best way to absorb iron supplements?
Once you have been diagnosed with low iron levels and the need for more iron in your diet then you must understand how our body absorbs iron best. iron is the best way to absorb iron supplements into our blood directly avoiding the common side effects of constipation, nausea, and vomiting. However, this method is tedious, inefficient, inconvenient, and not cost effective. Oral iron supplements are notorious for causing nausea, vomiting and constipation. Iron supplements come in a variety of the forms but regardless of iron being in the form of pills, gummies, tablets, or drinks they all cause the following symptoms when swallowed:
- Possible staining of your teeth
- Abdominal pain and cramping
Also, they must be dosed multiple times a day for a long term due to their poor absorption. Under the tongue iron supplements allow absorption directly under the tongue and avoid or at least lessen all the associated side effects associated with oral swallowed irons.
Under the tongue iron supplements can be taken every morning on an empty stomach by simply placing the tablet under the tongue prior to brushing your teeth. This can avoid the poor iron absorption and its associated intestinal side effects. In a recent study in New England Journal of Medicine, study participants were given standard swallowed high dose iron tablets two to three times a day, but the results of their blood studies showed only absorptions of 22.6 to 23.6mg per day. The medical community believes that under the tongue absorption is a more efficient method of absorption allowing similar if not better absorption than the current practice of multiple daily dosing of oral Irons.
How Much Iron Should You Take?
- Less than 8 mg daily for males and for women over age of 50 (cessation of menstrual cycle).
- 18 mg or higher for regular adult female
- 27 mg for adult pregnant female
- Adolescents 10mg for boys and 15mg for girls
- Children4 to 13 years around 8 to 10mg
- Children1 to 3 around 5 to 7 mg daily
- Infants from 6 to 11 months 10mg daily
- Infants 1-6 months from breast milk
Iron Absorption and Issues with Oral Supplements of Iron!
Most iron supplements contain 65 mg of elemental iron in a 325mg total tablet, that includes salts, additives, preservatives, coloring, coatings, etc.
Iron supplement studies have shown overall poor absorption for all swallowed iron supplements from liquid to gummies to swallowed pills. Multiple daily dosing has become the standard of the industry to improve overall absorption which may possibly even worsen the absorption issue. Also, with multiple dosing comes the worsening problem of side effects such as nausea and constipation that can lead to cessation of the supplement and worsening of the disease such as anemia.
The medical community still believes that intravenous iron or under the tongue absorption is still a better alternative due to less side effects and possible improved absorption. The daily dosing regimen can always start low and be increased per your doctors’ recommendations or your blood test results.
This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
“Anemia or Iron Deficientcies.” National Center for Health Statistics. Accessed 8 July 2021.
Evans, Hezy. “The Importance of Iron for Human Body.” eHealthzine, 29 September 2010. Accessed 8 July 2021.
Geneva. “WHO guidance helps detect iron deficiency and protect brain development.” World Health Organization, 20 April 2020. Accessed 8 July 2021.
“10 Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency.” Healthline. Accessed 8 July 2021.
Green, David. “Iron Dosing for Optimal Absorption.” NEJM Journal watch, 30 OCT 2015. Accessed 8 Jul 2021.
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