Iron is one of the most important minerals in the body. Our health heavily relies on iron as this mineral is used to make hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It is also a component of myoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen to the muscles. Iron additionally plays a role in hormonal health and the transmission of nerve impulses.
Without iron, we do not get sufficient oxygen throughout our body, which we know would prove extremely detrimental to our overall health. Iron-deficiency anemia is an extremely prevalent disorder in the world today as it affects more than 25% of the world’s population. Without oxygen, we become fatigued and tired, while our bodily systems shut down. So, let’s take a look at the best iron supplements.
Different Types Of Iron Supplements
Iron supplements come in the form of capsules, tablets, and liquids and usually come in a 325 mg dosage of either ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, or ferrous fumarate. These kinds of ferrous salts are the most readily absorbed of all iron salts, so choosing an iron supplement that contains one of these active ingredients is essential. Iron supplements also often contain ascorbic acid, a source of Vitamin C, as this vitamin increases iron absorption in the body.
There are also slow-release and fast-release iron supplements. Slow-release supplements have been proven to be easier on the stomach and do not cause as much gastrointestinal distress and constipation.
Iron Supplement Benefits
Iron is an extremely important mineral that plays a key role in your overall health. Through either dietary or supplemental sources, iron should be a part of your lifestyle. The following are the associated benefits of iron and iron supplements:
- Sufficient energy
- Supports gastrointestinal health
- Supports the immune system
- Transports oxygen throughout the body and to muscles
- Creates serotonin, a mood-regulating hormone
- Important for brain health
- Transmits nerve impulses
On the other hand, the following are the health implications of iron-deficiency anemia:
- Pale skin
- Brittle nails
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflamed tongue
Should I Take Iron Supplements?
More than 25% of the world’s population is deficient in iron and suffers from anemia. Populations at risk for anemia and iron deficiency include women (due to blood loss from menstruation), athletes, pregnant women, mothers, infants, and those who do not get significant dietary sources of iron such as vegetarians and vegans.
If you fall into one of these categories, or if you feel more tired and depleted throughout your everyday life, you should get tested for iron deficiency anemia. Having your blood work done helps to keep track of your iron levels and will dictate whether or not you should be supplementing with iron. You should still consult with a medical professional to see if you should actually be supplementing with iron as too much iron in the body can also prove dangerous. Blood levels typically return to normal after two months with supplementation, so frequently having your levels checked is essential.
Do Iron Supplements Really Help?
A lot of clinical trials and research have proven that iron supplements are effective in boosting iron levels, promoting hemoglobin, and reversing anemia and its related issues. Blood work is usually conducted first to see if you are anemic, and then blood levels are tracked after about two months of taking iron supplements. As stated, though, it’s crucial to take iron alongside Vitamin C to enhance absorption.
Additionally, you should consult a doctor before taking iron supplements as iron-toxicity can prove dangerous. It is possible to get enough iron from dietary sources, so supplementation is not always necessary, especially if you are not a member of one of the at-risk populations. There are some associated side effects of iron supplements, usually involving gastrointestinal distress (constipation).
The Best Iron Supplements
Slow Fe Iron Supplement
This iron supplement is a slow-release iron supplement which helps to offset some gastrointestinal distress. It comes highly rated by the community, and it is the number 1 iron supplement recommended by doctors.
Pure Encapsulations Iron-C
This product includes Vitamin C in the formula, which enhances the intestinal absorption of iron. The product claims to provide a highly-utilizable form of iron to support optimal muscle function. It is also non-GMO, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan.
Floradix Iron & Herbs
This product is the best-selling liquid iron supplement in North America. This low-dose iron supplement also claims to be less harsh on the digestive system and does not cause constipation. It also contains Vitamins B6, B12, and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in the formula. It is also vegan.
Should I be Taking Iron Alongside Anything Else?
The absorption of iron in the body is enhanced by Vitamin C. Many supplements contain a Vitamin C source to increase absorption, but if not, it’s essential to have a source of this vitamin with supplementation. The same goes for dietary sources of iron. Some sources of Vitamin C include oranges, lemons, apples, and many other fruits and vegetables. You can also always add a vitamin C supplement to your routine.
Additionally, milk, calcium, caffeinated beverages, high-fiber foods, and antacids should not be taken alongside iron supplements.
Iron Supplement Alternatives
Many individuals can get adequate iron in their bodies through dietary sources. Heme iron is found in animals, and non-heme iron is found in plants. Some of the most iron-rich foods include:
- Dried fruit
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach)
- Fortified bread and whole grains
Iron Supplements – A Key Player In Your Health
Iron is a key player in supporting our overall health. As one of the main methods of oxygen transportation throughout our body, without iron, our bodily systems suffer. Iron-deficiency anemia is very common throughout the world today, but consulting your doctor before using iron supplementation is necessary. Iron supplements do not need to be taken long-term as iron blood levels usually rise, and symptoms resolve as a result of supplementation.
With supplementation, it’s important to include a source of Vitamin C to enhance absorption, and the same goes for dietary sources. There are many iron-rich foods like chicken, turkey, tofu, beans, spinach, and nuts that you should try to incorporate into your diet (with a Vitamin C rich food like lemon or orange). Prioritizing iron through the use of supplements or your diet is essential in order to support your immune system, oxygen diffusion, gut health, muscle health, brain health, and hormonal health.