Diagnosed with iron deficiency? With so many iron supplements to choose from, how can you be sure which ones will work best for you? We talked to our pharmacists to find out which are the best iron supplements on the market right now, together with some helpful tips as to what to expect when you start taking them.
Unsure which iron supplement to go for? Your doctor will most likely advise you which supplement you should take dependent on your iron count, but there are a few things to consider (and some uncomfortable side effects to know about!) before you start your course.
Here’s what to watch out for when choosing your iron supplement
- Take calcium separately, as it can interfere with the absorption of iron.
- Consider taking iron with vitamin C, as it can improve the absorption of iron much quicker than without.
- Take the recommended dosage advised by your GP — the body can’t metabolise high doses of iron, so consuming too much iron can actually be bad for you. Excess iron can start to irritate the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, which in turn can lead to further health issues.
- You may experience certain side effects with some iron supplements, the most common being constipation, followed by stomach pain, dark stools, nausea and vomiting. Choose an iron supplement that is gentle on the stomach to avoid any tummy upsets.
- Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach, although iron supplements can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea in some people. You may need to take iron with a small amount of food if it’s too much for your stomach.
- Milk, calcium and antacids should not be taken at the same time as iron supplements. You should wait at least 2 hours after having these foods before taking your iron supplement.
- When taking ion supplements, you should avoid eating high fibre foods, such as whole grains, raw vegetables, and bran, and any foods or drinks with caffeine.
- Liquid iron formulas may stain your teeth, so you might want to mix them into another liquid to avoid further staining. If you do experience staining, brush your teeth with baking soda or peroxide.
Want to know which supplements will work best for you? Here’s our top 5 edit, as recommended by our pharmacist.
5 of the best iron supplements
1. GP recommended: Ferro-Max C
Commonly recommended by GPs, this high potency iron supplement comes with added vitamin C to help increase iron absorption fast. The type of iron used in this formulation, however, could cause constipation, so if you suffer with any existing stomach issues, you might want to consider an alternative, like Ethical Nutrient Iron Max, listed below.
This vegan-friendly formula is kind on the stomach, so it won’t cause constipation, and is activated with amino acid chelates, + Vitamin C and B6 to help with red blood cell production.
3. Recommended for pregnancy: Bioceuticals Iron Sustain
Gentle on the stomach, this vegetarian and vegan-friendly supplement contains vitamin C, iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 to help maintain healthy blood, and is particularly beneficial during pregnancy when iron is needed in larger amounts.
4. High strength natural iron liquid: Vital F+ Iron Supplement Sachet
This high strength liquid iron formula is made using all natural ingredients, and contains a huge 15mg of iron per sachet, with added energy-boosting B Group Vitamins and Vitamin C. It’s gentle on the stomach, and is infused with herbal extracts and natural fruit concentrates (cherry, beetroot, apple), so it tastes great too, unlike other liquid formulas that tend to leave a metallic taste in the mouth.
You can drink straight from the sachet, so they’re super convenient, and they’re preservative, yeast, gluten and lactose-free, as well as vegetarian and vegan friendly. These sachets are suitable for men, women, pregnant women, nursing mothers, athletes, senior citizens and children over the age of 12 years.
5. A family-friendly natural iron liquid: Floradix Iron Liquid
A great natural all-rounder that’s suitable for the whole family (children over 1 are able to take this supplement should they need to), this vegetarian friendly formula contains ferrous gluconate, a highly bioavailable form of iron supplement, so this gets to work on boosting your iron supply fast. As well as iron, it also contains a combination of B vitamins to boost energy and general health, as well as an infusion of herbs, fruit and vegetable extracts, for a pleasant tasting flavour.
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