Iron is important in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period (heavy periods) are at higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia and may need to take iron supplements.
Why Do You Need Iron?
“The major reason we need it is that it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body,” says Paul Thomas, EdD, RD, a scientific consultant to the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements.
Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen. Iron has other important functions, too. “Iron is also necessary to maintain healthy cells, skin, hair, and nails,” says Elaine Chottiner, MD, clinical assistant professor and director of General Hematology Clinics at the University of Michigan Medical Center said in an email intervie.
It is better to try to consume enough in the diet alone by removing or reducing factors that may hinder iron absorption and consuming iron-rich foods.
Other common chemical forms are ferrous gluconate and ferrous fumarate. Ask your health care provider how many pills you should take each day and when you should take them.
Taking more iron than your body needs can cause serious medical problems. Blood counts return to normal after 2 months of iron therapy for most people. You may need to continue taking supplements for another 6 to 12 months to build up the body’s iron stores in the bone marrow.
Tips FOR TAKING IRON
Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Yet, iron supplements can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea in some people. Milk, calcium and antacids should NOT be taken at the same time as iron supplements.
Drinking 8 ounces (240 milliliters) of fluid with an iron pill is also OK.
Tell your provider about all the medicines you are taking. Some of these include tetracycline, penicillin, and ciprofloxacin and drugs used for hypothyroidism, Parkinson disease, and seizures. Wait at least 2 hours between doses of these drugs and iron supplements.
Constipation due to iron pills is common. Ask your provider about switching to another form of iron rather than just stopping. Black stools are normal when taking iron tablets.
Talk to your provider right away if:
The stools are tarry-looking as well as black
If the stools have red streaks
Cramps, sharp pains, or soreness in the stomach occur
Liquid forms of iron may stain your teeth. Keep iron supplements out of the reach of children. If your child swallows an iron pill, contact a poison control center right awa.