Ensuring optimal health is particularly crucial for women, as they face a higher risk of iron deficiency. Iron plays a vital role in the body, contributing to various functions such as oxygen transport, energy production, and immune system support. Iron deficiency can lead to a range of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, and cold hands and feet. In severe cases, it can progress to iron-deficiency anemia, characterized by more severe fatigue, brittle nails, and headaches.
There are two primary forms of dietary iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal sources and is generally more efficiently absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is present in plant-based sources but is not as easily absorbed. This is where supplements come in.
Similar to dietary iron, there are non-heme and heme iron supplements available in Canada. Non-heme iron supplements are derived from plant sources. On the other hand, heme iron supplements are sourced from animal products and are closer in structure to the iron in our bodies, leading to better absorption.
It’s important to choose the right type of iron supplement as differences in absorption rates and side effects can lead to differences in how you feel in your iron supplementation journey.
Why Do Women Need More Iron Than Men?
Women require more iron compared to men due to specific reasons related to their bodies. Women experience a biological process called menstruation, during which they lose blood. Iron is crucial for producing new blood, so women need additional iron to replenish the blood they lose.
Furthermore, in the future, when women become mothers, their bodies require even more iron to produce blood for themselves and their babies. Even after giving birth, when they breastfeed their babies, they still need extra iron. Therefore, it’s highly important for women to consume foods rich in iron or consider taking iron supplements to maintain good health.
Natural Iron Supplements
There are many natural iron supplements available in the market today. It’s vital to review the ingredient lists when choosing iron supplements due to the following reasons:
1. Efficacy: Different types of iron are used in supplements, and their absorption in your body varies. Analyzing the ingredient list enables you to recognize the specific type of iron present in the supplement. By choosing a supplement that is efficiently absorbed, you can increase your iron levels with less side effects.
2. Personal Dietary Preferences: If you follow vegetarian, vegan or halal diets, it’s even more important to read the labels of natural iron supplements. This way you can be sure the supplement aligns with your lifestyle.
3. Medical Factors: If you have a medical condition or are taking medications, speak to your doctor before supplementing. Review the ingredients of your supplements with your healthcare practitioner so they can identify any potential conflicts.
Iron Supplements For Anemia
Iron is an important mineral that can assist in producing more red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout your body. If you have an iron deficiency, it may progress to iron deficiency anemia if left untreated. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells.
Iron supplements come in various forms: capsules, tablets, and even liquids. Depending on the severity of your iron deficiency, your healthcare practitioner may prescribe blood tests to check your iron levels. Based on those results, they will prescribe the best type of iron supplements for you. It is recommended that you always speak to your doctor before starting or changing your supplementation regimen.
Vitamin With Iron
Some iron supplements may include vitamins, especially vitamin C. These supplements will generally be non heme iron supplements as they absorb differently from heme iron supplements. Vitamin C helps your body absorb non heme iron, as your body does not absorb it efficiently on its own.
However, if you drink tea or coffee while taking your non heme iron supplement, you will make it harder for your body to absorb this type of iron. On the other hand, heme iron is absorbed through a specific receptor that only absorbs heme iron. This receptor is called the Heme Carrier Protein 1 receptor.
Vitamin C, coffee, and tea don’t affect the absorption of heme iron.
Iron is important for your health as it helps carry oxygen throughout your body. If you don’t have enough iron, you can feel tired, weak, and even get anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is a bigger risk for women than men due to menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, all of which increase iron needs.
There are two different kinds of iron, heme and non heme, in our food and supplements. Heme iron from animals is easier for your body to absorb. When picking a supplement, you need to be aware of its ingredients and its efficacy to ensure best results for your health. If you have an iron deficiency, it is recommended that you speak to your healthcare practitioner and ask about heme iron supplements.
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