What is Iron Used for in the Body?
Iron is an essential mineral and it plays a crucial role in your body. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to cells throughout your body. Hemoglobin is the component that carries this oxygen in your red blood cells. You need iron to make hemoglobin, which means you need iron to help your body get the oxygen it needs. Without enough iron, your body won’t have enough hemoglobin, and you may feel tired. In more severe cases, you may be diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. To manage this condition, you healthcare practitioner may ask you take the best iron supplement for iron deficiency.
What is Iron Deficiency Anemia and What Causes it?
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is anemia caused by a lack of iron. Anemia is a condition where you don’t have sufficient healthy red blood cells to get enough oxygen to your body cells. Some of the causes of IDA are:
- Not consuming enough iron
- Menstrual bleeding
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. If you think you may have the symptoms of iron deficiency, it is important to talk to your family doctor.
What are the Symptoms of IDA and How to Reduce Them?
The symptoms of IDA can be mild at first. People with IDA can feel very tired and weak. The other symptoms of IDA include:
- Feeling cold
- Brittle nails
- Feeling dizzy
- Shortness of breath
- Quick heart rates
Including more iron rich foods in your diet can help with IDA. Along with dietary changes, iron supplements can help as well. Talk to your physician to check your iron levels and if they are low, ask about iron supplements.
How Much Iron Should I Consume Per Day?
The amount of iron you should consume a day depends on your age and gender. Older women and pregnant women need the most iron. People who are vegetarian are also recommended to include more iron in their diet than people who eat meat.
The recommended amount of iron you should get from your diet is around 8-18 mg a day for healthy adults. If you are trying to include more iron in your diet, then you need to know that there are two types of iron that you can get from food: heme iron and nonheme iron. Heme iron is easier to absorb than non-heme iron. You usually get heme iron from meat and nonheme iron from vegetables, nuts, and grains. If you can’t get enough iron from your diet, you may need iron supplements.
Iron Supplements for Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency can range from mild to severe enough to cause anemia. IDA can be treated by consuming more iron-rich foods or by taking iron supplements. Iron supplements increase the amount of iron in your blood, and there are heme and non-heme ones.
While iron supplements can be purchased without a prescription, you should still consult a doctor as there are many different types of iron supplements on the market. A few of the available iron supplements are:
- Multivitamin supplements that also have iron
- Iron supplements with ferrous or ferric iron salts
- Heme iron polypeptides, or carbonyl iron
Iron supplements can come as a powder, a liquid, a pill, or a chewable pill depending on what you need and what your doctor recommends. To treat IDA, you may need to take iron supplements for three months, as it may take a while to replenish your iron stores. It is always recommended that you speak to your doctor for individualized guidance about iron supplementation.
Best Iron Supplement for Iron Deficiency for Women
There are many brands and types of iron supplements available for women. These supplements come in various doses, prices, and have different forms of iron. Although there are many recommendations about iron supplementation, if you have iron deficiency, you need an iron that absorbs easily and increases your iron stores. Women are more likely to have iron deficiency than men. Given this, it is recommended to consult your family doctor about your iron levels. If tests reveal that your iron levels are low, talk to your doctor about heme iron supplements.
Iron Supplements in Canada
Iron supplements in Canada are available online, in pharmacies, and in stores. If your iron levels are low, the first step is to include more iron-rich foods in your diet. However, if the symptoms of iron deficiency are affecting your quality of life, you may need iron supplements.
OptiFer Alpha heme iron supplement is available across Canada. Check our where to buy page to find a location near you.
Potential Side Effects
Some of the common side effects of taking iron supplements constipation, abdominal cramping and even diarrhea. You may also have nausea and vomiting. Since heme iron is absorbed through a dedicated heme receptor in the intestines, the side effects of heme iron supplements are lower. It can also interact with other medications, so it is advised to talk to your healthcare practitioner, especially if you are taking other medications.
Iron plays a crucial role in your body and helps your red blood cells transport oxygen. Without enough iron you can’t make enough hemoglobin, which is the component of red blood cells needed for oxygen transport. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world and can become iron deficiency anemia if it progresses. There are two types of iron, heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron absorbs easily and with low side effects. If you have iron deficiency, or iron deficiency anemia, make sure you consume enough iron in your diet and talk to your doctor about heme iron supplements.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source
- Mayo Clinic: Iron Deficiency Anemia
- John Hopkins Medicine: Iron-Deficiency Anemia
- Cleveland Clinic: Iron Supplement (Ferrous Sulphate)
- National Institutes of Health: Iron
- Mayo Clinic: Iron Supplement (Oral Route, Parenteral Route)
- Healthline: The 15 Best Iron Supplements of 2022, According to Dietitians
- Very Well Health: The 9 Best Iron Supplements of 2022
- Medical News Today: 8 of the best iron supplements of 2022
- Health Canada: Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals (PDF)