Iron supplements are important when you cannot get enough iron from your diet. However, you should take them after consulting with your health provider and stick to the recommended dosage.
Among the minerals playing an important role in your body is iron. It helps keep you healthy and gives you the energy you need. However, when you have low iron levels in your body, iron supplements come in handy. They will help you reverse iron deficiency in cases when you cannot get enough of the nutrient from your diet. However, what are these supplements, who can use them, and what are their side effects?
What are Iron Supplements?
Your body requires iron to help keep the red blood cells healthy, and a greater percentage of it, around 70%, is found in your hemoglobin – a protein in charge of transporting oxygen from your lungs to different parts of your body. However, there are times when the levels of this mineral in your body are not enough. At this point, the available volume is unhealthy for you and your well-being. This is where the supplements come in.
Iron supplements are pills that you ingestto increase iron levels in the body. This is mostly the case if you cannot obtain adequate amounts of this nutrient from the foods you eat or your diet in general. They come in handy when you need to reverse iron deficiency, a condition where the demand for iron in your body overridesits supply.
These pills are also used when a patient suffers from iron deficiency anemia since they respondquicker than dietary applications. additionally, the supplements help people who frequently have low levels of iron or those whose diet only cannot sustain their iron status.
You can take iron supplements following a prescription by a doctor. You can however, buy them over-the-counter. The supplements are available in different forms; the most common one is a tablet, but you can also get them in liquid form. The variety of available iron supplements is also evident in the amount of the mineral they contain.
Nonetheless, there are different types of iron supplements;
- Ferrous gluconate
- Ferrous sulfate
- Ferric citrate
- Ferric sulfate
Notably, you should only consume the supplements when it is necessary. Otherwise, they can harm your health or damage your cells. Therefore, ensure you first consult your doctor before you consume any iron supplements. Remember, it is also important to test your iron status before consuming any of these pills. When a health care provider agrees that you can take the supplements, ensure you stick to the recommended dosage; neither overdose nor underdose.
Who Should Use Iron Supplements?
Some individuals are more likely to have low levels of iron. They might not be getting enough of it from their diet alone, hence would need to supplement the nutrient intake. At this point, the pills come in handy. However, how do you know the particular people who should use the supplements?
The following are examples of persons who should use iron supplements;
- People suffering from iron deficiency anemia
- Pregnant women
- Girls and women with heavy periods
- Infants and very young children
- People who donate blood frequently
- Individuals who have had gastric surgery
- Persons with heart failure
- People under medication that deplete iron in their body
- Individuals under a vegan or vegetarian diet
- Sickle cell anemia patients or those with any other blood-related medical condition
- Individuals with cancer
- People who have gastrointestinal disorders, e.g., Crohn’s disease, celiac disease e.t.c
- Individuals who indulge in heavy exercise
As you have already learned, it is important you only take the supplements when necessary. Besides, before you consume the ensure you get tested, so you know your iron status. Getting a bit of advice from a health provider is also key, and when prompted to take the pills, ensure you follow the particular dosage recommended.
When it comes to testing, how often should you do this? If you have a family history of low iron levels, testing your iron levels once yearly can be okay. This way, the doctor can detect any iron deficiency while still in its early stages.
Furthermore, after taking the iron supplements for your condition, how long should you expect to see the results? This usually happens within a month. However, it can go up to 3 months or longer for a complete improvement in your hemoglobin levels.
The Side Effects
As you now know, when a doctor prescribes iron supplements to you, you must follow the right dosage. This way, you limit your chances of developing the side effects. However, there are cases reported when users experienced side effects such as;
The good thing is, the side effects will mostly reduce once your body adjusts to the supplements.However, if you have them and are concerned, don’t hesitate to talk to your health care provider and get the needed advice.
Remember, sticking to the recommended dosage is key. You don’t want to have too much of it in your body. This is because an excess of iron supplements can lead to iron poisoning. If you suspect you have consumed more than you ought to, inform a professional health care provider as soon as possible, so you get immediate help.
Iron is an important mineral in your body, and it is mostly located in hemoglobin. Having adequate levels of iron is, therefore, important for your general health. However, in instances where this is not possible, you can take up the iron supplements, which a doctor can prescribe, or you can buy over-the-counter. Also, ensure you stick to the recommended dosage and only take them when necessary so you can avoid potential health risks. Moreover, there are certain side effects which you might experience, such as constipation. Therefore, you must consult your trusted health care provider before you embark on taking iron supplements.