Should Pregnant Women Take Iron Supplements
Most OB-GYNs will recommend pregnant women supplement with iron and folate to supply the fetus with everything it needs to properly grow. The amount of iron you need may vary depending on your age, body size, and a number of other factors, so you’ll want to check with your healthcare practitioner for individualized dosing.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
How Much Iron Should You Take
The recommended dietary allowance includes the iron you get from both the food you eat and any supplements you take.
Strict vegetarians may need to take in higher levels of iron.
At high doses, iron is toxic. For adults and children ages 14 and up, the upper limit — the highest dose that can be taken safely — is 45 mg a day. Children under age 14 should not take more than 40 mg a day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that — starting at 4 months of age — full-term, breastfed infants should be supplemented with 1 mg/kg per day of oral iron. This should continue until iron-containing complementary foods, such as iron-fortified cereals, are introduced in the diet. Standard infant formula that contains 12 mg/L iron can fulfill the iron needs of an infant until age 1.
Ask your health care provider how much iron supplement you or your child should take, if any.
What Ingredients Absolutely Must Be In Your Prenatal Vitamins
The most important vitamin in your prenatal vitamin is folic acid, which you need before and during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Prenatal vitamins contain at least 400 mcg of folic acid. Folic acid is vitamin B9 and is naturally occurring in some foods such as:
- Fortified grains
Folic acid is crucial for growth, especially for the development of the spinal cord and brain. These tissues can develop in the fetus before you even know you are pregnant, so it is recommended to start this vitamin at least a month before conceiving. Sometimes pregnancy happens unexpectedly, so some people of reproductive age may take a prenatal vitamin in the chance they do become pregnant.
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Thorne Iron Bisglycinate Is Readily Absorbed And Easy On Digestion
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Verywell Health / Jessica Juliao
Iron is an essential mineral our bodies need to carry oxygen and support growth, cell functioning, and brain development. Getting the right amount of iron is important, as too little or too much can be dangerous. It is best to get your iron from food, as food provides additional benefits such as energy, fiber, other nutrients, and it is unlikely to overload on iron from food sources.
However, you will likely need an iron supplement if you are pregnant, at high risk of iron deficiency due to a health condition or limited diet, or if a healthcare professional confirms you have an iron deficiency. Symptoms for iron deficiency can include fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and a weakened immune system. A more severe iron deficiency may progress to iron deficiency anemia, which can lead to more serious symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, and heart problems.
When deciding which iron supplement is best for you, consider appropriate dose, budget, ingredients, and the form of iron that will be absorbed well but not cause you gastrointestinal discomfort. You should only take an iron supplement if it has been recommended by a healthcare provider.
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How Should I Take Iron Supplements
If your healthcare provider has recommended an iron supplement, use it only as directed. You should take the supplement on an empty stomach. Take your medication at least one hour before or two hours after you eat a meal.
If youre using a tablet form, swallow the tablet whole. Dont try to crush, chew or break it. If youre using a liquid form, measure the medicine carefully. Use a dosing syringe, not a kitchen spoon. You may not get an accurate dose of the medication.
Your healthcare provider may recommend a special diet while youre taking ferrous sulfate. Follow their instructions precisely. Store the supplement at room temperature, and keep it out of reach of children.
Other instructions to keep in mind:
- Although the supplement works best on an empty stomach, you may want to take it with food so it doesnt upset your stomach.
- You shouldn’t take iron supplements with milk, caffeine, antacids or calcium supplements.
- Try to take your iron supplement with vitamin C to increase absorption.
Am I At Risk Of Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency is more prevalent among women. If you belong to any of the following groups, you may be at risk of iron deficiency. It is also common among the following groups of people.
- Women who menstruate
- People with gastrointestinal disease and inflammatory bowel disease
- People who have undergone gastric bypass operations
- People whose diet does not include enough iron-rich foods
- People with peptic ulcer disease
Though iron deficiency can be treated by iron supplements, there are a few concerns. They may have certain potential side effects.
Note: Before consuming these supplements, it is recommended that you consult your doctor and test your digestive function iron levels.
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Unusual Cravings Can Be A Sign Of Iron Deficiency
The urge to chew on ice, or consume or smell unusual substances, can be a sign of iron deficiency, as highlighted by a recently reported case. Get the details and learn about other symptoms of iron deficiency, in the What It Does section of our Iron Supplements Review. Also see our Top Picks among iron supplements.
Our Criteria For Choosing The Best Supplements
We considered the following when selecting our top picks:
- Third-party certifications. We looked for iron supplements that are part of the NSF Certified for Sport program. Another certification we looked for is good manufacturing processes certified or registered. This ensures a third party has inspected the facilities for safe manufacturing practices.
- Form of iron. Just any old iron isnt good enough. We looked for the types that the body can most easily absorb and how much elemental iron came with each iron type, along with source and price. For example, chelated iron thats more bioavailable for raising iron levels, and ferrous iron is more affordable than chelated or carbonyl iron.
- Dosage. The National Institute of Health recommends 8 milligrams of iron for men and postmenopausal women, and 18 mg of iron per day for premenopausal women.
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Best Iron Gummies For Children: Maxi Health Chewable Kiddievite
- Dosage: one chew a day
- Volume: 90 chewies
- Active ingredients: 10 mg iron
- Certifications: cGMP, kosher
- Pros: 3-month supply, includes a wide range of additional vitamins
- Cons: contains fish gelatin, wheat, milk, and artificial flavors
These natural bubblegum flavor chewable vitamins provide 10 mg of iron per gummy. According to the product labeling, this accounts for 56% of a persons DV based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
They are marketed for children, and contain a wide range of additional vitamins, including:
- vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12
These chewable vitamins are not suitable for vegetarians as they contain fish gelatin.
A bottle of 90 chews costs $31.95.
Can You Get Iron Naturally From Foods
For most people, a good diet provides enough iron. Natural food sources of iron include:
- Meat, fish, and poultry
- Beans, lentils, and peas
Iron is also added to many fortified foods, such as cereals and enriched breads.
Iron from animal sources is absorbed better by the body. However, you can help your body absorb plant-based iron by eating a fruit or vegetable that is high in vitamin C .
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Thorne Research Iron Bisglycinate
Thorne Research is known for providing straightforward, no-nonsense supplements, and thats exactly what they deliver with their iron supplement.
Its in the chelated bisglycinate form, which means its great if normal iron supplements give you constipation, cramping, or stomach pain.
The only downside is that the dosage per capsule is lower, so if you are seriously deficient, youll need to take a lot of pills.
Does It Matter If You Take A Tablet Or Gummy Vitamin
There are many different types of prenatal vitamins, including:
In general, the type of prenatal vitamin you take doesnt matter. Some people find taking liquids and gummies easier than swallowing pills. However, keep in mind that gummies usually have more sugar content and dont contain iron, so you may need to supplement with additional sources of iron.
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Are There Any Side Effects Of Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins, especially if they contain iron, can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as:
Many parents may already experience these symptoms from pregnancy. But, its important to talk with your healthcare provider if youre experiencing any unusual symptoms and you think your supplement could be to blame.
How To Take Iron Supplements
A person should follow a doctors instructions or the product label for when and how often to take iron supplements. Typically, it is best to take them on an empty stomach and with water, around 12 hours before a meal.
It is also possible for an individual to have too much dietary iron in their body. This can lead to conditions such as iron overload disorder and iron poisoning. Anyone who suspects that they may have either condition should seek medical advice.
Some symptoms of iron toxicity include:
Healthcare professionals will only recommend taking supplemental iron if a person has low iron levels. People with normal iron levels should not take supplemental iron.
If a person thinks that they may have iron deficiency or be at risk of developing it, they should contact a doctor.
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Product Quality And Safety
Its also important to choose products that are manufactured in facilities that adhere to CGMPs established by the FDA.
How To Choose An Iron Supplement
Iron supplements are often available in the form of a tablet or capsules. Some individuals may prefer to use liquid or gummy supplements. People should consider which form would suit their needs best.
Look for reputable brands with third-party certification or testing. Choose products from companies that are transparent about their ingredients and product dosages.
Some iron supplements include other vitamins and minerals, which may suit people who do not take many other supplements. For example, iron supplements that contain vitamin C may enable better absorption.
Some people may experience digestive discomfort when taking iron supplements. Iron supplements that are fermented or designed to aid digestion may help ease or prevent this discomfort.
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What To Look For In An Iron Supplement
When choosing one of the best iron supplements for women, there are a few factors to take into account. First and foremost, the most optimal source is iron bisglycinate . The less optimal sources are ferrous fumarate and ferrous sulfate. These types of iron can, unfortunately, cause unpleasant side effects, like constipation, nausea, heartburn, and stomach pain.
Secondly, instead of looking at the overall strength of iron, look at the amount of elemental iron. Elemental iron is the amount of iron available for absorption. For example, an iron supplement may read 300mg on the front of the bottle, but it may only contain 60mg of elemental iron. Work with your healthcare practitioner to find the right type and dose of iron for you.
Thirdly, take a look for added nutrients that may promote iron absorption or impair it . Last but not least, check for brands that use third-party quality testing. More on my favorite brands, below!
How To Increase Iron Absorption
Whether youre consuming heme or non-heme iron , vitamin C is important for all iron absorption. Often, vitamin C is added to iron supplements because it enhances iron absorption. From citrus fruits to bell peppers, these vitamin C-rich ingredients can support your bodys ability to absorb iron.
Furthermore, foods with vitamin A and beta-carotene aid in iron bioavailability. Vitamin A is critical for healthy vision, bone growth, and immune health. Beta-carotene can be turned into vitamin A in your body. Nourishing food sources with both beta-carotene and vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and apricots.In essence, the foods you eat not only influence how much iron you consume but also how well this essential mineral is absorbed in your body.
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When Should You Take An Iron Supplement
Iron supplements are best taken on an empty stomach, but some people may need to take them with a small amount of food to avoid side effects. You should not take iron supplements at the same time as milk, calcium or antacids , as well as high-fiber foods or caffeine. Taking an iron supplement with vitamin C may help your body absorb it more effectively.
How Can I Find Out If My Iron Levels Are Low
The best way to find out if your iron levels are low is to talk to your doctor. They can order a blood test called a complete blood count to check for anemia.
If you have anemia, your doctor will likely recommend that you take iron supplements. They may also recommend changes to your diet, such as eating more foods that are high in iron.
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Iron Supplements: Treating Iron
Iron supplementation may be warranted in some patients to build up iron stores.
Iron supplementation may be warranted in some patients to build up iron stores.
Although most individuals typically obtain a sufficient amount of iron by eating a well-balanced diet, iron supplementation may be warranted to build up iron stores in individuals with iron-deficiency anemia.
Iron-deficiency anemia is considered to be the most prevalent form of anemia in the United States, but the good news is that it can be effectively treated.1-4 An estimated 4% of premenopausal women are considered to be iron deficient.5 In addition, certain patient populationssuch as children younger than 2 years, adolescent girls and premenopausal women , women during and after pregnancy, and patients of advanced ageare at greater risk of developing iron deficiency.2-4
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although multiple factors may contribute to iron deficiency, the causes can be grouped into 2 main categories: increased iron needs, and decreased iron intake or absorption . The most common causes of iron deficiency include blood loss due to hemorrhagic loss and menstruation as well as poor diet and/or an inability of the body to absorb an adequate amount of iron from dietary means.2-8 Strict vegetarians may also be at risk of iron deficiency, but deficiency can be avoided if the diet contains iron-fortified foods such as grains, beans, and dark leafy vegetables.2,4,7
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