Supplements can provide many benefits. Amongst the more well-known supplements is iron. Many people who are looking to increase their levels of energy often turn to iron. It may also be prescribed as a mandatory medication for some people who have deficiencies associated with iron.
Iron is one of the most important nutrients that we have to have present in our bodies. It is a building block necessary for the production of red blood cells. These cells are vital for delivering oxygen to various locations around our body from our lungs.
Those who suffer from low iron amounts in their system, which happens to far more people than you think, can often become susceptible to fatigue, decreased motivation to move and exercise, and a variety of other issues that can lead to even greater problems.
Iron supplements often help you fight these side effects and prevent any potential iron-related problem from surfacing. Generally, iron supplements are able to give you just the right amount of concentrated iron which should improve your levels of iron and rectify any negative effects of low iron.
But as with any supplement, every single product is different in its own way. Some iron supplements are designed to be absorbed quickly while others focus more on eliminating possible side effects associated with iron supplements. Choosing the right supplement usually takes some research, but luckily you won’t have to do it all on your own.
We have compiled a list of the most frequently used iron supplements on the market. These supplements are very popular amongst consumers. We have identified some key differences between them which we will be sharing with you. Remember, this list is completely randomized, so the position of a supplement on this list does not determine how effective it can be:
Top 10 Best Iron Supplements For Health in 2023
1. Proferrin ES
First and foremost, let’s jump into a supplement which is perfect for those who suffer from chronically low iron. If no other iron supplements have been able to fix your iron level, then we strongly suggest you give Proferrin ES a shot.
There are different types of iron supplements; some are absorbed a lot easier than others. This is where Proferrin ES shines. The iron delivery form used in this product is through heme. Using this method results in quick absorption when compared to other supplements based on various other absorption methods.
But as with any supplement, there is no perfection. While the heme form should be the most effective method to absorb iron and there is quite a bit of literature supporting this form, there actually haven’t been any clinical studies performed to solidify this speculation. By all means, don’t let this stop you from trying this iron supplement. There are plenty customers who have provided positive feedback about Proferrin ES.
2. Thorne Research Iron Bisglycinate
Want a straight to the point iron supplement without any nonsensical jargon designed to confuse you? No problem, that’s what Thorne Research has delivered in this product.
This form of iron supplement comes in the chelated bisglycinate form. Generally, it’s perfect for people who have experienced frequent stomach aches, constipation, and unusual cramping while taking other types of iron supplements.
Again, there are some downsides that you must consider. This supplement actually has a relatively low dosage per pill, which isn’t the best if you are highly deficient in iron. Taking a ridiculous amount of iron supplement pills per day isn’t very viable.
There is another way to increase the abortion of iron and it’s by taking it alongside vitamin C. Vitron-C, as the name suggests, does exactly that. This supplement has combined iron with vitamin C, 200 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C to be exact, to increase the absorption of iron.
So while this solution is indeed a clever one, Vitron-C made a huge mistake by using a reduced form of delivery for their iron. This reduced form literally means that your iron comes from tiny metallic flakes of iron which are the only source of iron in this supplement.
Anytime you have to rely on your gut to digest a supplement and absorb it into your system, you immediately lose biochemical availability of ingredients in the supplement. In simple terms, this means that digesting iron means you get a lot less of it in your blood, which can be a huge problem.
4. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron
Garden of Life is very well-known for delivering supplements in their purest raw form. They pretty much take dried fruit and vegetables, powder them into a concentrate, and provide it as the supplement of choice for whichever vitamin, mineral, or nutrient you are interested in. They also frequently add these concentrates to other minerals in their formula.
We agree that this is definitely one of the best ways to handle delivering natural raw supplements packed with nutrients, but this isn’t true for iron. Combining iron with vitamins from raw fruits and vegetables actually hinders its absorptions if they are taken at the same time. So while this formula will deliver plenty of vitamins, it might also counteract the delivery of iron and drastically reduce your body’s ability to absorb it.
Supplements that try to derive vitamins and nutrients from fruits and vegetables through extraction methods that are natural have usually got the right idea, but in the case of iron, you have to focus on absorption. Unfortunately, adding these natural ingredients can greatly reduce this absorption, resulting in a less than an optimal iron supplement.
5. NovaFerrum Iron Drops
If you’re looking for a total alternative to the traditional pill form, this product is available in the form of drops. If you are completely against taking tablets, pills, or capsules, then you may want to try the NovaFerrum Iron Drops in an attempt to get some iron into your blood. We say attempt because there are a number of various disadvantages involved in taking liquid iron supplements.
Let’s start with the first and the more obvious problem, which is dosage. There is absolutely no way to accurately determine the correct dosage of any liquid supplement. This means that no matter how hard you try, your dosage will vary every single time you take the supplement. The second issue is more scientific; the form in which iron is delivered by NovaFerrum is the polysaccharide form. Here is the kicker: its bioavailability is completely unknown.
So what we are trying to say is that it is best to avoid liquid iron supplements at all cost. If you have a really good reason, then go for it. Otherwise, please choose another iron supplement product.
6. Solgar Gentle Iron
Thumbs up for another supplement that decided to avoid the commonly used ferrous sulfate form of iron. This specific form of iron generally causes stomach cramps, gut problems, and even constipation. We think that’s the last thing you need when trying to improve your iron levels.
Solgar Gentle Iron is delivered in bisglycinate form, which pretty much has no known side effects. This is definitely a good choice of iron supplement if you ask us.
7. Ferretts Iron Supplement
Remember the not-so-great ferrous sulfate form of iron that we mentioned earlier? Luckily, Ferretts Iron Supplement has decided to avoid this form of iron, as well. So if you run into too many side effects from the more commonly used form, this product is a great choice.
Even though the form of iron used in the Ferretts supplement is still mineral salt-based, ferrous fumarate should be more tolerable for your stomach. Furthermore, unlike most other mainstream iron supplements, Ferretts has managed to avoid additional artificial ingredients as well as fillers which can cause issues.
8. Nature Made Iron
This is one of the most popular iron supplements on the market. The Nature Made formula isn’t anything special, and they use a simple ferrous sulfate iron supplement that many iron supplement products use. However, there is one small addition which we are somewhat confused by, and that’s calcium.
While we know that calcium is vital for proper functions of our bodies, we are also wondering why you would use such a small amount of it in this supplement’s formula. When we said it was a small addition, we meant it. There is hardly any calcium in this supplement to make any difference on your already present calcium levels.
Furthermore, calcium is actually an inhibitor of iron absorption, so why in the world would you use it in an iron supplement, to begin with?
Dubbed as the original and one of the most popular iron supplements, Feosol is definitely an acceptable choice for an iron supplement. However, we must stress that its formula hasn’t changed in its many years of production, meaning that it’s somewhat aged.
We understand why it’s effective, mostly due to its high dosage of iron, but we still have a hard time justifying taking a supplement that contains so many extraneous ingredients. The core of the formula is simple iron in the form of ferrous sulfate, but all the extra ingredients have us wondering if it’s a good choice.
Some ingredients always make sense, given the right quantities of them, but things like artificial coloring or polymers aren’t necessary. Additionally, we have discovered that there are milk derivatives in this formula. This means there is going to be a trace of calcium in the bled as well, which results in hindered iron absorption. Plus, anyone who is lactose intolerant will have problems with this supplement. We are really at a loss here.
10. New Chapter Iron Food Complex
Remember Garden of Life? We think that New Chapter has been taking some tips from their supplement production team since they decided to mix quite a few other herbal and vegetable components in their iron supplement.
Just like the problem that Garden of Life is faced with, New Chapter has also managed to successfully inhibit the absorption of iron by using all these other complicated ingredients. The amount of iron in this supplement is already on the low side, and it contains only about 50% of the daily recommended dose.
We should give them some credit, as it turns out that the iron used in this formula was culture derived. This is another way of saying that they use used ferrous fumarate, which is iron in the form of mineral salt.
Iron Benefits, Side Effects, And Dosage
Iron deficiency is a crucial issue and needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. It can cause numerous problems to develop which can effectively cripple your lifestyle.
If you continue ignoring your iron deficiency, expect side effects like chest pains, fatigue, brittle nails, and extreme weakness. These are just some of the common side effects of low iron.
There are numerous benefits you can take advantage of if you are iron deficient. The primary focus of any iron supplement is to quickly get your iron levels back into the normal range. There are two major factors that will determine how fast you can accomplish this.
The first and the most obvious factor is how quickly you can absorb iron. Don’t mix this up with your iron dosage. Research shows that iron comes in many different forms and each form has its own absorption limitations. So while taking a higher dose of one form might leave you thinking you are getting plenty of iron, the truth could be the opposite.
Furthermore, the diet which you follow greatly affects your iron abortion. Ingredients found in foods, beverages, and pretty much everything else you eat can either inhibit or improve your iron absorption. We know that vitamin C has a positive effect on iron, but at the same time, calcium has a negative effect.
The second factor is your ability to avoid the negative effects of iron. Each body is unique and thus it will respond to various forms of iron in various ways. For example, one of the cheapest forms of iron is mineral salt iron.
Most supplement manufacturers use this form because it’s inexpensive, but it comes with a price that the consumer ends up paying. Ferrous fumarate or ferrous sulfate, both iron salts, often have a pretty agitating effect on your gastrointestinal tract. If you are willing to deal with these side effects then this form is one of the more effective ones.
Another form of iron is heme, which is part of the chelated iron group. This form is usually known for being more easily absorbable while lacking in the gut side effects department, which sounds like a win-win. The bisglycinate form of iron is also part of the chelated iron group, while it’s not as easily absorbed by your body as heme, but it does share the reduced likelihood of causing gut-related side effects.
The final form, and one that many have promoted as being the most absorbent, is liquid iron. Even though this has been stated in countless citations, there isn’t any factual evidence that liquid iron is absorbed faster by your body then mineral salt iron. Liquid iron generally contains mineral salt iron in it, which is usually present in tablets.
Tablets are actually broken down by your stomach very quickly and with extreme effectiveness. There are other benefits to using liquid iron, like adding it to your favorite shake or morning drink, but there are disadvantages to this form as well. Dosage is a huge concern, and it is very difficult to maintain the same dose of liquid iron every day without any fluctuations.
Essentially, there are two types of side effects you need to be looking at when dealing with iron supplements: short-term and long-term side effects.
The short-term side effects of iron are very well-known to cause problems associated with our gastrointestinal tract. Constipation, stomach aches, and bloating are all a possibility. It’s important to note that these side effects are usually caused by the mineral salt-based form of iron which is frequently used by most supplement companies.
Additionally, you need to consider that these short-term effects are completely random. Some people don’t experience them at all while others show symptoms even after taking a low dose.
Unfortunately, taking iron supplements over a long period of time when you don’t need them can cause a significant increase in the risk of developing serious diseases. For example, one study shows that your chances of developing colon cancer are higher with increased consumption of iron.
Another study pointed to increased chances of heart-related complications if you are taking too much iron. This is the reason why men are at higher risk for heart disease since their iron levels are much higher than that of women.
Lastly, there is another condition which you should be aware of since 1 out of 200 people has the chance to be diagnosed with. It’s called hemochromatosis. It’s a mutation that affects your body in a negative way and which hinders its ability to process iron. People who suffer from hemochromatosis should never, under any circumstances, take iron supplements. The results could be dire.
Determining the correct iron dosage can be tricky since we all process it differently. A good starting point should be between 100 mg to 200 mg of iron per day.
We suggest trying the lower dosage for a few months to see if there are any improvements. If you don’t see your blood iron levels go up, then raise the dosage by 200 mg and test it once more in a few months.
Frequently Asked Questions About Iron Supplements
Iron supplements are catching fire with alternative health experts and consumers all over the world. Still, the use of iron supplements is a relatively new phenomenon. Consumers might have a number of questions about iron supplements. This section will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about iron supplements, although specific questions should be directed to manufacturers and their customer service teams.
Q: What is iron?
A: Iron is a mineral that plays a crucial role in health and wellness. New studies continue to show that millions of consumers all over the world are deficient in iron, which can have drastic health effects.
Q: What does iron do?
A: The main purpose of iron is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells throughout the body so cells can produce energy. Iron also helps remove carbon dioxide. Without a good stock of iron in the body, it can be hard to produce the energy necessary for exercise and general wellness.
Q: What happens if I don’t get enough iron?
A: If you don’t get enough iron, the body’s iron stores become so low that not enough normal red blood cells can be made to carry oxygen efficiently. This is known as iron deficiency anemia. Low levels of iron are also associated with fatigue, weakness, and difficulty maintaining body temperature. If you are iron deficient for a long period of time, it can lead to pale skin and fingernails, dizziness, headache, and inflamed tongue (glossitis), among other symptoms.
Q: Who should take iron supplements?
A: If you don’t get enough iron through food, then you may want to take an iron supplement. Iron supplement usage is particularly common among adolescent girls and women ages 19 to 50, as these groups are particularly at risk for iron deficiency. Research shows that women of childbearing age need 2-3 times more iron than men. Women who experience heavier periods, especially in their 30s and 40s, require more daily iron intake, and this iron may be difficult to achieve with diet alone. Iron supplements may also be recommended for frequent blood donors, people with cancer, people with gastrointestinal disorders or recent gastrointestinal surgery, and people with heart failure.
Q: Should you take iron while pregnant?
A: Your doctor may tell you to take an iron supplement while pregnant. Babies need iron for brain development and growth.
Q: How does pregnancy impact iron levels?
A: During pregnancy, the volume of blood in your body increases by about 30-50%. Your body needs more iron because the body uses the iron to make extra blood to transport oxygen for the mother and baby.
Q: Why is iron important for active exercisers?
A: People who exercise regularly, particularly in endurance events (running, rowing, and cycling) need iron to maintain energy levels. Iron helps oxygen transport in the blood, and maintaining normal iron levels can support good performance.
Q: Should my baby take an iron supplement?
A: Your pediatrician may recommend an iron supplement. Babies store enough iron for the first four to six months of life. However, pediatricians may recommend an iron supplement for babies that are premature or have a low birth weight. After six months, the need for iron increases, which is why many baby formulas are formulated with iron.
Q: How much iron do I need?
A: Iron needs vary by age and gender. Although you should consult your physician to be sure, general recommendations are: Children 1-3: 7 mg , Children 4-8: 10 mg , Children 9-13: 8 mg , Males/14-18: 11 mg , Females/14-18: 15 mg , Males/19+: 8 mg , Females/19-50: 18 mg , Females/51+: 8 mg
Q: What are the benefits of an iron supplement?
A: Iron supplements may support good energy levels, reduce tiredness and fatigue, improve cognitive function, boost immune function, and support overall health and wellness, among other benefits.
Q: What’s the difference between heme and nonheme iron?
A: Iron in food exists in two forms, including heme and non-heme. Animal foods like meat, seafood, and poultry provide both types of iron and are better absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is found in plant sources of iron, including spinach, beans, enriched grains (like rice and bread), and fortified breakfast cereals.
Q: Do vegetarians and vegans need to take iron supplements?
A: Many vegetarians and vegans fail to get adequate amounts if iron from diet alone. Plant sources of iron are poorly absorbed by the body. Your diet may be high in iron-rich foods, but you’re ultimately not getting enough iron. That’s why many vegetarians and vegans take iron supplements.
Q: Should coffee and tea drinkers take iron supplements?
A: Studies show that drinking tea or coffee after meals can reduce iron absorption. Because of this, many coffee and tea drinkers regularly take iron supplements to reduce the amount of iron lost after meals.
Q: What are the best foods for iron?
A: The best foods for iron include red meat, pork, poultry, beans, dark green and leafy vegetables, dried fruits, and fortified cereals, breads, and pastas. Lamb, beef, chicken turkey, tofu, spinach, lentils, oysters, beans (kidney, lima, and navy), molasses, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, and brown rice are all good sources of iron.
Q: Are iron supplements safe to take?
A: When taking a normal recommended dosage of the iron supplement, the supplement should be safe to take for healthy adults. However, as with any supplement, you should talk to your doctor before taking iron supplements.
Q: Do iron supplements interact with medicine?
A: Iron may reduce the absorption of some antibiotics, thyroid medicines, methyldopa, levodopa, and penicillamine. We strongly recommend that you consult your physician to ensure that iron supplements won't interfere with any existing medications you might be taking.
Q: Should people who donate blood take an iron supplement?
A: People who frequently donate blood are more at-risk for iron deficiency. If you frequently donate blood, then you may want to take an iron supplement.
Q: How do you know if you have an iron deficiency?
A: The only way to really know if you have low iron is to order a blood test through your healthcare provider. Your doctor should be able to guide you through the process of testing for an iron deficiency, which can be serious.
Q: What are the symptoms of low iron levels?
A: Common iron deficiency symptoms can include feelings of tiredness, difficulty concentration, restless syndrome, and unusual food cravings (like a desire to eat non-food items).
Q: Are iron supplements legal?
A: Iron supplements are legal to purchase around the world. They’re available over the counter without a prescription. However, always check with your local law enforcement agencies before purchasing any supplement.
Q: Can you take too much iron?
A: It’s possible to take too much iron if you are consuming high levels of iron supplements. Some studies indicate that excessive iron intake is harmless because your body processes iron efficiently. However, recent research has connected high iron intake – particularly in the form of heme iron from red meat – with chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Q: How do you use iron supplements?
A: Most iron supplements are consumed via tablet or capsule form. You take the tablet or capsule daily with water.
10 Best Iron Supplements of 2023 Summary
Iron supplements shouldn’t be taken by everyone, and only people who are deficient in iron should consider taking iron supplements. Introducing additional iron into your system when your body doesn’t need it can result in serious problems.
Choosing the right iron supplement will determine if you have any iron-related side effects, so be vigilant when it comes to the products that are available to you.
As with any supplement, always talk to your doctor if you are planning on taking any supplements, especially those that have a potential of serious long-term side effects, like iron. Your doctor will be able to measure your iron blood levels and let you know if you could benefit from an iron supplement.