Iron Supplements 101: How To Take Them Safely

iron pillsSome health conditions, such as anemia, can spur a doctor’s prescription for iron supplements. These capsules, tablets or liquids work to combat the low iron levels in the body that may be causing a variety of symptoms related to iron-deficiency diseases.

Iron deficiency anemia is caused when there’s not enough iron in your red blood cells. Without healthy levels of iron, your red blood cells cannot effectively provide oxygen to your cells and tissues.

Symptoms of anemia include:

-fatigue
-weakness
-dizziness
-difficulty concentrating

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia in the United States. Almost five million Americans have it.

Common causes of anemia include:

-menstruation, particularly if flow is heavy or prolonged
-peptic ulcer disease
-cancer in the digestive tract
-blood loss from trauma or blood donation
-gastrointestinal bleeding from prolonged use of medications like aspirin and ibuprofen

As with anything, there are good and bad ways to take iron or iron supplements. The way you consume iron can make for a good day without complications or a terrible day with side effects. Also, you want to avoid getting too much iron, which could result in iron overload.

Here are some tips on how to take iron supplements safely, preventing those painful side effects:

Eat something first.

Most medications require consumption on an empty stomach. Don’t make this mistake with iron. Though iron is absorbed into the body best on an empty stomach, taking the supplement without eating first can bring on some nasty side effects – stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. Avoid the trouble by eating a snack or something small before taking an iron supplement.

Don’t just eat anything.

Yes, you should eat a little something before you take an iron supplement. BUT, be careful what you choose to eat. Milk, calcium and antacids don’t sit well with iron. Also,…