Iron Supplements Canada

Iron Supplements Canada

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia affect women across the world. Specific groups, such as women of a reproductive age and female athletes, are at a higher risk of iron deficiency. An iron-rich diet can help to prevent iron deficiency, however, following such a diet may not be easy for everyone. This is where iron supplements can help. When it comes to iron supplements Canada offers several types.

Iron Deficiency

Before looking at the different kinds of iron supplements, it is important to understand iron deficiency and how it can affect your health. Iron is essential for making hemoglobin. It is the hemoglobin in your red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. Without enough iron, your body cannot make hemoglobin, and iron deficiency sets in.

Some of the symptoms of iron deficiency are:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Cold hands and feet

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, speak to your healthcare provider about checking your iron levels.

Types Of Iron Supplements Canada

With iron supplements Canada regulates these through Health Canada, and there are several types available. These are:

  • Iron tablets
  • Powder iron supplements
  • Liquid iron supplements
  • Iron gummies

Each type of iron supplement may contain a different amount of elemental iron, according to the National Institutes of Health. Elemental iron is the amount of iron in the supplement that is available for absorption by your body. The amount of elemental iron in a supplement is listed on its label for easy reference.

How To Choose Iron Supplements Canada

Along with reading the labels before choosing an iron supplement, it is best to be aware of any potential side effects. Iron supplements can sometimes cause abdominal discomfort, bloating, and constipation.

While it may seem that choosing an iron supplement with a high amount of elemental iron is ideal, that approach is flawed. As mentioned before, elemental iron is the amount of iron available for absorption. However, not all of the elemental iron in a supplement can be absorbed by your body. Just because your are consuming a high amount of iron does not mean your body is absorbing all of it.

This is because there are two types of iron and your body absorbs them at different rates. The two types are: heme iron and non-heme iron.

Heme vs Non Heme Iron 

The key difference between heme and non-heme iron is that heme iron is available in animal flesh while non-heme iron is found in vegetables. There are other differences between the two as well.

Heme iron is absorbed through a dedicated receptor called the Heme Carrier Protein 1 (HCP1). Non-heme iron is absorbed through the Divalent Metal Transporter 1 (DMT1) protein where it has to compete with other metal for absorption. According to the BC Health, heme iron is absorbed at rates of 15% to 35% which is more than non-heme iron absorption rates of 2% to 3%.

Since your body absorbs heme iron at a greater rate than non-heme iron, there is less excess iron left in your body causing fewer side effects.

To summarize, when choosing an iron supplement you need to pay attention to the amount of elemental iron and the type of iron in the supplement.

OptiFer Alpha Heme Iron Supplement

An iron supplement that offers both elemental iron in high amounts and better absorption rates is OptiFer Alpha Heme Iron Supplement. OptiFer Alpha comes in tablet form and contains 11mg of elemental iron (heme iron). As it is a heme iron supplement, it absorbs better with low side effects.

While non-heme iron supplements need vitamin C to help with absorption, this is not the case with heme iron supplements such as OptiFer Alpha. You can even continue your daily tea or coffee habit as heme iron absorption is not affected by caffeine either.

Widely available in pharmacies and retailers across Canada, OptiFer Alpha comes in blister packs so you can conveniently take out one tablet a day. 

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia can affect your quality of life. If you are experiencing any symptoms of iron deficiency, or fall into an at-risk group, talk to your family doctor today.

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