Iron Supplements | Everything You Need to Know In 2023 (Guide)

Iron Supplements | Everything You Need to Know In 2023 (Guide)

What Are Iron Supplements | Benefits | Types | Factors That Affect Absorption | Who Should Take It | Diet/Food | Popular Products | FAQ Warnings And Side Effects | Disclaimer

In this blog, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about iron supplements, including their benefits, types, potential side effects, and ways to add more iron to your diet. We’ll also discuss why iron supplements are especially important for certain groups, like pregnant women and vegans. So let’s get started and learn how to take care of our bodies with the help of iron supplements!

Section Divider: What Are Iron Supplements

What Are Iron Supplements?

Iron supplements contain iron, an essential mineral the body needs to function properly. These supplements are often part of treatment plants to help prevent or treat iron deficiency and anemia. This condition occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues. (1)

Iron supplements come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and liquids, and are available over the counter or by prescription, depending on the dose and type. They can be a helpful way to ensure that individuals are meeting their daily iron requirements, particularly if they cannot do so through their regular diet.

Section Divider: Iron Supplements Benefits

Iron Supplements Benefits:

Iron supplements offer several benefits for individuals who have low iron levels or are at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. Here are some of the key benefits of taking iron supplements:

  • Improved Exercise Performance: Iron is necessary for muscle function and can affect exercise performance. Research suggests that iron supplements can help improve endurance during physical activity by increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. (1,3,4,5)

  • Better Overall Health: Iron is essential for overall health and well-being. It plays a critical role in immune function, brain function, and the production of hormones. Ensuring that you have adequate iron levels can help support these vital bodily functions. (1,2,6)

  • Improved Cognitive Function: Iron is necessary for producing neurotransmitters in the brain, which are essential for cognitive function. Low iron levels can lead to brain fog, poor memory, and difficulty concentrating. Iron supplements can help improve cognitive function by increasing iron levels in the brain. (7,8,9)

  • Faster Recovery from Anemia: Iron deficiency anemia can occur if you don’t have enough iron. This condition develops when you lack iron in your red blood cells. As a result, you may experience severe fatigue and weakness. Iron supplements can help increase iron levels in the body, leading to faster recovery from anemia and improved overall health. (1,2,10)

Section Divider: Iron Types

Iron Types:

Several types of iron supplements are available, each with different benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the most common types of iron supplements:

Ferrous Sulfate: Ferrous sulfate is the most common form of iron supplement and is available in both tablet and liquid form. It’s often recommended for individuals with iron deficiency anemia because it contains a high concentration of elemental iron. (11)

Ferrous Gluconate: Ferrous gluconate is another iron supplement often used to treat iron deficiency anemia. It’s generally easier on the digestive system than ferrous sulfate and is often recommended for individuals who experience gastrointestinal side effects from other types of iron supplements. (6,11,12)

Ferrous Fumarate: Ferrous fumarate is another type of iron supplement available in tablet form. It’s similar to ferrous sulfate in terms of elemental iron content but may be better tolerated by some individuals. (2,11,12,13)

Heme Iron Polypeptide: Heme iron polypeptide is a type of iron supplement that contains a form of iron that is more easily absorbed by the body. It’s often recommended for individuals who have difficulty absorbing traditional iron supplements due to gastrointestinal issues or other medical conditions. (14)

It’s important to note that iron supplements may have different dosing requirements and potential side effects. Always speak with a healthcare provider before beginning any iron supplement regimen to ensure you take the appropriate type and dose for your individual needs.

Section Divider: Who Should Take It

Factors That Affect Absorption:

Several factors can affect the absorption of iron supplements in the body. Here are some of the most significant factors:

  • Food: The presence of food in the stomach can affect the absorption of iron supplements. Taking iron supplements with food, particularly those that contain vitamin C, can improve iron absorption. For best absorption, the recommendation is to take iron at least 30 minutes before a meal or 2 hours before taking other medications. However, being on an empty stomach may cause gastrointestinal side effects like cramps. Therefore you may want to have a small amount of food before taking iron supplements. (13,15)

  • Medications: Some medications can interfere with iron absorption. Antacids, for example, can reduce the absorption of iron supplements, while some antibiotics can enhance it. (13)

  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can affect iron absorption. Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease, may have difficulty absorbing iron supplements. (11,13)

  • Dosage and Type of Iron Supplement: The type and dosage of iron supplements can also affect absorption. Some types of iron supplements are better absorbed than others, and taking too much iron at once can reduce absorption.

Additionally, consuming a balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods can help support healthy iron levels and may reduce the need for iron supplements.

Section Divider: Who Should Take It

Who Should Take It:

Iron supplements can be especially important for certain populations who may be at increased risk of iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia.

Here are some of the special populations that may benefit from iron supplements: (1,2,3,6)

  • Pregnant Women†
  • Children†
  • Women/Girls with heavy menstruation†
  • Vegetarians and Vegans†
  • Athletes†
  • Individuals with Gastrointestinal Disorders†

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency:

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in many bodily functions, including the production of red blood cells, oxygen transport, and energy metabolism. When the body doesn’t get enough iron, it can lead to an iron deficiency. (1,2)

Iron deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  1. Fatigue and weakness†
  2. Pale skin†
  3. Shortness of breath†
  4. Dizziness†
  5. Headaches†
  6. Cold hands and feet†
  7. Brittle nails†

Iron deficiency anemia can cause additional symptoms, such as rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and shortness of breath, even with mild exertion.†

Dosage Recommendations:

It’s important to note that these are general recommendations and that individual iron needs may vary based on factors such as age, gender, and health status. Additionally, iron requirements may be higher for individuals who engage in regular vigorous exercise, as exercise can increase the body’s demand for iron. Here are the current recommended dietary allowances (RDAs): (1)

Persons RDA 
Males 14–18 years  11 mg
Females 14–18 years  15 mg
Males 19–50 years 8 mg
Females 19–50 years 18 mg
Pregnant  27 mg 
Breast-Feeding  9 mg
Adults 51 years and older 8 mg


Section Divider: Diet

Diet/Food: (1)

While iron supplements can be a helpful tool for preventing or treating iron deficiency, getting enough iron through your diet is an important way to maintain healthy iron levels. 

Iron in food is available in two forms: heme iron and nonheme iron. Heme iron is primarily found in animal products like meat, poultry, and seafood, while nonheme iron is present in plant-based foods and iron-fortified products.

To maximize iron absorption from plant-based foods, it’s advisable to consume them along with meat, poultry, seafood, or foods containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli. This can enhance the absorption of nonheme iron in the body.

You can meet the recommended daily intake of iron by including a variety of foods in your diet, such as:

  • Lean meat, poultry, and seafood
  • Iron-fortified bread and cereals
  • Vegetables like spinach, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, and peas
  • Nuts and certain dried fruits like raisins

Section Divider: Popular Products

Popular Products:

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular iron supplement products available!

  • Healthy Origins Iron Ease
  • NOW Foods Iron
  • Life Extension Iron Protein Plus

Healthy Origins Iron EaseHealthy Origins Iron Ease is an iron supplement that uses Ferrochel® Ferrous Bisglycinate Chelate to provide 45mg of iron. This chelated form of iron is gentle on the stomach and has high bioavailability.†

How To Take Iron Ease:

Healthy Origins recommends taking one (1) veggie capsule daily for adults or as a healthcare professional advises.

Iron Ease Review By Daria: “I love the benefits from these capsules. As described, they are easy to swallow. They are little costly, but worth the price. I do not take them daily because of the potency of the product, but I do take them every other day. They work great. I am anemic, so I benefit greatly from this supplement. I definitely recommend!”

NOW Iron (Veg Capsules)NOW Food’s Iron is an iron supplement that contains 36mg of Ferrochel® Ferrous Bisglycinate. It is gentle and non-constipating, making it easy to tolerate.†

How To Take NOW Iron:

The manufacturers recommend taking one (1) capsule daily with a meal. Store in a cool, dry place after opening.

NOW Iron Review By Lawrence: “This is the first time I’ve found an iron supplement that work for my anemia issues without upsetting my stomach. I’ve never had an iron supplement that seemed to cause no side effects while keeping my iron levels healthy. I was influenced from reading reviews about this product. I will never use a different iron supplement.”

Life Extension Iron Protein PlusLife Extension Iron Protein Plus is an iron supplement that contains 300mg of Iron from IronAid® Iron Protein Succinylate. This form of iron is highly absorbable and well-tolerated in people with sensitive stomachs.†

How To Take Life Extension Iron Protein Plus:

Life Extension recommends taking one (1) capsule daily or as a healthcare practitioner recommends.

Iron Protein Plus Review By Hector: “I had found out that my iron levels were quite low when I recently had bloodwork done at the doctor’s office, possibly because I am vegetarian. I ordered Iron Protein Plus because I needed a better source of protein, because of my strict diet. I chose to order from Life Extension because I have been getting my supplements from this brand for years and a have always been extremely satisfied with the quality and results of all their products. My iron levels are currently in the normal range and I am feeling great!”

Section Divider: FAQ


Here are some frequently asked questions about iron supplements:

Are There Side Effects From Iron Supplements?

While iron supplements can effectively prevent or treat iron deficiency, they can also cause side effects in some individuals. Here are some of the potential side effects of iron supplements: (1,15)

  • Muscle Pain†
  • Flushing
  • Headache
  • Metallic Taste
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Abdominal/Stomach Pain
  • Diarrhea

Can I Get Too Much Iron From Supplements?

Yes, it is possible to get too much iron from supplements. Taking excessive amounts of iron supplements can cause iron toxicity, damaging the liver and other organs. (1)

Can Iron Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, iron deficiency can cause hair loss. Iron is crucial in producing hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues. Hair follicles require adequate oxygen and nutrients to grow and remain healthy. When the body lacks iron, it can disrupt hair growth and lead to hair loss. However, there are multiple causes of hair loss. A blood test can help diagnose iron deficiency anemia and other potential causes of hair loss. If iron deficiency is found to be the cause, an iron supplement may be recommended to help restore iron levels and improve hair growth.

Will Iron Supplements Cause Dark Stool?

It’s possible that iron supplements can cause dark stools. Iron supplements can turn the stool dark, usually black or dark green. This happens because when the body takes in more iron than it needs, the excess iron can combine with other substances in the digestive tract to form compounds that give stool its dark color.†

It’s important to note that dark stools can also be a sign of other health issues, and you should consult a healthcare provider for an evaluation. 

Can You Drink Alcohol When Taking Iron?

It’s generally not recommended to drink alcohol while taking iron tablets or any other supplements or medications. Alcohol can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, including iron, and may reduce the supplement’s effectiveness.

Additionally, drinking alcohol can irritate the lining of the digestive tract and increase the risk of gastrointestinal side effects from iron tablets, such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Can Iron Supplements Raise Blood Pressure?

Some evidence suggests that iron supplements may raise blood pressure in some individuals. When the body has too much iron, it can contribute to oxidative stress, inflammation, and other processes that may increase blood pressure. However, more research is necessary to understand this relationship fully.†

What is FeraMAX®?

FeraMAX® is a brand of iron supplement that contains 150mg of elemental iron per capsule. It uses a unique form of iron called polydextrose-iron complex, a newer form of iron supplement that uses polydextrose as a carrier for iron. It is claimed to have better absorption and tolerability than traditional iron supplements. Ferrochel®, on the other hand, is a chelated form of iron that is highly bioavailable and well-tolerated by most people. Likewise, IronAid® uses iron protein succinylate which is highly absorbable and well-tolerated by the body, particularly in people with sensitive stomachs.

Limited research compares polydextrose-iron complex to other forms of iron, so it is difficult to say which one is better. However, these forms of iron supplements have been shown to be effective in treating iron deficiency.

Section Divider: Wrapping Up

Wrapping Up!

And this marks the end of our post on Iron Supplements. Thank you for reading! And as always, if there was something that wasn’t clear, another question you might have, or if you have another idea for a blog, Email Us!

Are you looking for more to read? Check out some of our other blogs!

Section Divider: Warnings And Side Effects

Warnings And Side Effects:

For adults only. Do not exceed recommended dosages unless directed by a physician. Consult a physician if pregnant/nursing, taking medication, or having a medical condition. Keep out of reach of children.

Warning: Accidental overdose of iron-containing products is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under 6. Keep this product out of reach of children. Call a doctor or poison control center immediately in case of accidental overdose.

Section Divider: Disclaimer


†Please note the intention of the information provided is for reference only. Furthermore, we are in no way providing medical advice or instruction. Instead, the information provided in this guide/blog utilizes anecdotal information and available studies/reviews. While we aim to maintain and display accurate information, we can’t guarantee it represents the latest product formulation or information. Therefore, please visit the manufacturer’s website if you have any concerns. Also, the information above does not represent our views here at Same Day Supplements. Instead, these are the manufacturers’ and users’ views and information. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. Finally, these products aim not to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease or illness.

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