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How to Optimize the Absorption of Iron Supplements

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The most effective strategy to increase iron levels is through taking supplements, as there are an estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide who are iron deficient.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your supplement and optimizing iron absorption, there are a few things you can do. Menka Gupta, MD, a functional medicine practitioner at Nutranourish Clinic in Singapore, states that if a blood test confirms low iron levels and you have symptoms like weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, or pale skin, your doctor will usually recommend iron supplements.

According to Gupta, women who are iron deficient, particularly those who are of childbearing age, may also have extra menstrual cycle symptoms including heavy or irregular periods. Regular exercisers—especially those who engage in severe or endurance training—may require more iron because their red blood cell turnover and oxygen transport demand are higher.

According to Gupta, “an iron deficiency can occasionally also result in increased susceptibility to infections.” Anemia brought on by an iron shortage can manifest as symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and an irregular or fast heartbeat.

According to Gupta, it’s typically recommended to take iron supplements empty-handed. This is due to the fact that certain ingredients, such phytates and tannins, present in whole grains and dairy products, might prevent the body from absorbing iron.

Polyphenols, which are present in coffee, wine, legumes, cereals, fruit, and vegetables, as well as black and herbal tea, have also been shown to have the ability to restrict the absorption of iron.

“The general recommendation is to take iron 30 minutes before a meal or two hours after a meal to optimize absorption,” the spokesperson stated.

According to certain studies, vitamin C can improve the body’s ability to absorb nonheme iron, which is the kind of iron present in plant-based diets and supplements, Gupta continued.

According to her, foods high in vitamin C, such as bell peppers, oranges, and strawberries, can also naturally improve the absorption of iron. You can also maximize total absorption by combining heme iron sources, such as those found in meat, poultry, and fish, with iron-rich plant diets. Iron-rich meals should be consumed with dairy products and whole grains separately.

Constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain are among the negative effects that iron supplements can occasionally induce. However, studies indicate that taking the supplement every other day rather than every day may lessen adverse effects.

According to Gupta, consuming excessive amounts of iron can be harmful and result in major health problems like liver damage. Because of this, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor to make sure you’re taking the recommended dosage of iron.

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