How Do Iron Supplement Foods Work?

Iron supplement foods are advised by medical practitioners when there is a deficiency of iron in the body. These foods increase the blood iron levels in the body to the amount that is recommended. Iron supplements are primarily used to treat deficiency of iron in human body and cure the anaemic condition. However, they have several benefits and a few side effects too.

When are iron supplement foods needed?

Iron supplements are generally advised when the diet of an individual lacks the right amount of the nutrient required by the body. These supplements are offered to trigger the formation of red blood corpuscles. The supplements work by making up for the low iron levels causing a haemoglobin deficit. When the levels of haemoglobin are below normal, doctors measure the serum ferritin. The deficiency of iron is seen especially in women and when the level of serum ferritin is equal to or less than 15mg per liter.

Fresh fillet of beef with green pepper

What are the forms of iron supplements?

There are two basic forms in which the iron supplement foods are available – ferric and ferrous. The ferrous iron salts, consisting of ferrous gluconate, ferrous sulphate, and ferrous fumarate, are the best forms of absorbed iron supplements. The quantity of iron present in a supplement available for absorption is the elemental iron. Ferrous fumarate has 33% iron, ferrous sulphate has 20% iron, and, ferrous gluconate has 12% iron.

What are proper doses for taking iron supplements?

As the dosage of the iron supplements increases, the amount of absorbed iron decreases. It is thus advised to women suffering a deficiency in iron that they complete their recommended dosages in a day in 2 or 3 times allowing equal gaps of times between each intake. For the women who aren’t pregnant, 50mg to 60 mg of elemental iron orally is needed twice regularly. This should be continued for three months in order to cure anaemia. Each individual, however, is advised accordingly and differently by the doctor.

Side effects and ways to minimize them

The iron supplement foods are often seen to have side effects. The prescribed doses are oftentimes seen to cause gastrointestinal troubles like constipation, vomiting, nausea, abdominal distress, or diarrhoea. The side effects can be minimized by starting with half or low doses in the initial stage and moving on to the full recommended dose gradually. These doses when taken in divided manner can also help to cope with the side effects. The iron supplements that are formulated with delayed release preparation are also effective in minimizing the side effects. However, such supplements are not usually recommended because they do not absorb well.

Who should be careful before taking iron supplements?

Iron deficiency does not usually occur in adult men and in menopausal women. The intake of iron supplements by them should strictly be upon the recommendation of the doctor. Non-prescribed intake can lead to an iron overload condition in the body of these individuals. The iron supplement foods are recommended by physicians to treat the haemoglobin deficit in the patients.

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