Most carnivores, particularly men, are able to meet their iron requirements from food alone. Young children and pregnant, menstruating, and lactating women have higher requirements and vegetarians have more trouble absorbing what they eat, because the iron in plant sources is absorbed only half as well as that from animal sources.
If you or your doctor decide to include an iron supplement in your diet, here are a few tips:
- Taking iron with Vitamin C improves the uptake of the iron.
- Antacids, soy protein, coffee and tea, eggs, whole-grain cereals and breads, and spinach decrease uptake. Separate these foods from your iron supplement by one hour.
- Calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium or copper supplements decrease uptake. Separate mineral supplements from iron supplements by two hours.
Taking iron on an empty stomach improves uptake, but it also upsets lots of tummies.
- If your iron supplement gives you a tummy ache, take it with a meal and/or switch to a different form. Ferrous bisglycinate, ferrous glycinate, or iron amino acid chelates are supposed to be tolerated better.
- If your iron supplement makes you constipated, try a different form. The type of iron in each supplement is listed on the label.
I suffered internal bleeding in 2016, losing enough blood that it took a year on iron supplements to get back to normal. The first one I tried made me itch. Simply changing brands solved the problem.
Excessive iron intake can be harmful. Don’t take too much!
- Ages under 13: 40 mg per day
- Ages over 13: 45 mg per day
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is the minimum needed to avoid deficiency.
Ages 1-3: 7 mg
Ages 4-8: 10 mg
Ages 9-13: 8 mg
Ages 14-18: Males 11 mg; Females 15 mg
Ages 19 and older: Males 8 mg; Females 15 mg
Ages 19 to 50: Females: 18 mg
Ages 51 and older: Females: 8 mg
Pregnancy: 27 mg
Breast-feeding women younger than age 18: 10 mg
Breast-feeding women ages 19 and older: 9 mg
Following blood donation: 37.5 mg