Choosing the iron supplements that are best for you will get the greatest health
You might be surprised to learn that iron is an important nutrient, and low iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the U.S. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 3.3 million women of childbearing age and 240,000 children between 1-2 years of age have iron-deficiency anemia.
But what is iron?
Iron is a mineral that?s vital to the health and functioning of your body. Although all of your cells contain iron, most iron is concentrated in your red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen from your lungs throughout your body.
Most Americans receive the recommended amount of iron from the foods they eat. However, there are certain situations and conditions that may make it necessary to add iron supplements to your diet. People who lack iron typically experience fatigue and extreme exhaustion that may impact other areas of their lives.
If you?re one of the many people who are lacking iron, you should consider taking iron supplements. Why should you take iron supplements and which iron supplements are best for you?
Why should you take iron supplements?
Iron supplements help treat iron deficiency and anemia. There are several reasons why someone may become iron deficient and decide to take gentle iron supplements.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia in the U.S. Nearly five million Americans have iron deficiency anemia.
For women, menstruation depletes iron. This is one reason why women have higher anemia rates than men. Ethnicity may also play a factor, with more African-American and Mexican-American women at risk of anemia, when compared to non-Hispanic white women.
Female athletes are also at an increased risk for being anemic, perhaps because they require greater supplies of red blood cells to carry oxygen while they exercise.
Those who are on kidney dialysis may need additional iron. The kidneys are responsible for producing erythropoietin, a hormone that tells the body to make red blood cells. If the kidneys have trouble working, then anemia is a common side effect.
Before deciding to take any form of iron supplement, talk to your doctor about the symptoms you?re experiencing and whether supplements are right for you.
Which iron supplements are best for you?
There are many different types of iron supplements available, which can be confusing when trying to decide which one is best to buy. The delivery method, including chewable tablets, oral tablets or liquid medications, is up to personal preference.
The most frequently used forms of iron in supplemental form are ferrous and ferric iron salts. This includes ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, ferric citrate, and ferric sulfate.
As a good rule of thumb, ferrous iron supplements usually have the highest amount of elemental iron in each tablet and are therefore the best choice when treating iron deficiency, and especially anemia. Ferric iron supplements, on the other hand are a good alternative if you experience negative side effects while using the ferrous iron supplements. The main downside is that ferric iron supplements don?t work as quickly to restore iron levels.
What is the difference between ferrous and ferric iron supplements?
Ferrous iron is the most commonly prescribed form of iron.
It?s available in a number of different forms and provides a high dose of iron per tablet, while still being cheap and accessible. As a bonus these tablets are easily absorbed in the small intestine, making it a great treatment for iron deficiency and anemia.
Ferric iron is a good alternative because some people find that it results in far fewer side effects than ferrous iron. Keep this in mind if you?ve tried a ferrous iron supplement in the past and experienced unpleasant side effects. It is on the more expensive side, so it may not be a good option if you?ll be taking your supplement for longer than a few months.
Unfortunately, the ferric iron formulation hasn?t proven to be as effective at treating iron deficiency when compared to other supplements.
Recent studies have also reported that iron amino acid supplements are as effective as ferrous sulphate supplements in maintaining healthy iron levels. Iron amino acids, however, don?t have enough elemental iron per tablet to treat iron deficiency. Consider them if you?re more interested in maintaining your already healthy iron levels to be proactive in preventing a deficiency.