Iron supplements can take a while to get into your system and raise your blood levels. The length of time it takes will depend on how low your levels are and what caused them to be low in the first place.
It’s important to take iron pills on an empty stomach or with a glass of orange juice to boost absorption. Avoid milk, coffee, tea and antacids with this medication because they can interfere with its effectiveness.
How to Take
Iron is a necessary nutrient that helps the body make red blood cells, which carry oxygen. People who don’t have enough iron may feel weak, dizzy or short of breath. If you think your symptoms are due to low iron, talk with a doctor and discuss taking supplements. The right type and dosage of iron for your situation will vary from person to person. Some people, including pregnant women, need to take a higher dose of iron each day.
When iron pills start to work, most people feel better and have more energy. However, it can take weeks or even months for the iron to build up in the body and improve symptoms of anemia. It is important to take the iron supplements exactly as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist.
Usually, iron is taken on an empty stomach so it is absorbed better. Some people may experience an upset stomach from this, though, so they should take it with food. It is also important to avoid dairy products, tea or coffee and antacids within 2 hours of taking the iron. It is also best to take iron with foods high in vitamin C, such as orange juice or a piece of fruit.
Some side effects of iron supplements can include indigestion, nausea and diarrhea. These can be minimized by taking the supplements on an empty stomach and eating foods that are high in vitamins C and K, which help the body absorb iron. It is important to drink plenty of fluids while taking iron, as this can help prevent constipation.
If you’re taking liquid iron, make sure to measure the dose carefully using a special device or spoon and not a household spoon to ensure you’re getting the correct amount. Liquid iron may also stain teeth, so it’s a good idea to use a straw or brush your teeth after each dose. Iron can also interact with some medications, including antacids, calcium supplements, tetracyclines and allopurinol. If you’re taking any other medications, make sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about them before taking iron.
Like all medications, iron supplements can cause side effects in some people. If these are bothersome, a person can ask a healthcare professional for advice about them. In rare cases, high doses of iron can be toxic. Iron poisoning, known as hemochromatosis, can lead to organ damage and coma. It’s important that a person who is taking iron supplements talks to their doctor before they start.
The most common side effect of iron supplements is diarrhea. This usually settles as the body gets used to the medication, but if it doesn’t, a person should tell their doctor or pharmacist. People who take large doses of iron can also develop stomach cramps and nausea. In some cases, these symptoms can be fatal in children.
Another possible side effect is a change in the color of a person’s stools. This is because high levels of iron can make stools darker. It’s usually a good idea to drink plenty of water when taking iron supplements, as this helps to flush the excess out of the system.
Having enough iron in the blood can help boost the immune system and fight infections. It can also help with the formation of hemoglobin, which helps the body send oxygen to damaged cells and tissues. In pregnant women, iron can help prevent premature birth and low birth weight in infants.
If someone has a chronic health condition that affects their iron levels, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease, they may need to continue taking iron supplements long after they begin to feel better. These conditions can be treated with other medications, so it’s important that the person talk to their doctor about them. The doctor will determine if they need to continue the supplements and if the dosage needs to be changed. A doctor can also recommend foods that are high in iron to help a patient maintain their health. It’s also a good idea to avoid eating dairy products, calcium supplements or coffee within two hours of taking iron, as these can limit the body’s absorption of it.
Iron is a vital nutrient for the body to produce hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. If a person is deficient in iron, they will be tired and weak. Doctors will use several different blood tests to check for anemia and diagnose the condition.
During the blood test, a health care professional will draw a small sample of blood from a vein in the arm or hand. The sample will be sent to a laboratory to be tested. The test will determine if a person is deficient in iron and if they have anemia. It will also help the doctor find out if a person has other causes of anemia such as low levels of folate, vitamin B12, or bleeding from ulcers or heavy periods.
Some of the blood tests that are often used to check iron include ferritin, total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), and transferrin saturation. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron in the blood. TIBC measures how much iron is bound to the transferrin proteins in the blood. The resulting number is used to estimate the total amount of iron in the blood. Transferrin saturation is the proportion of the plasma that has transferrin proteins attached. The higher the level, the more iron is in the blood.
If the iron results show that a person is deficient in iron, the doctor may prescribe a course of oral or intravenous (IV) supplements to bring the levels back up to normal. Iron pills typically start to work within a few days and should begin to increase hemoglobin levels in about 2 to 4 weeks. The doctor may recommend continuing to take the pills for about 6 months after the levels have returned to normal to ensure that all of the iron has been replaced.
If a person is taking other medications or supplements that can interfere with the result of an iron test, such as antacids, calcium, magnesium, or zinc, then they should discuss this with their health care provider before the test is done. The doctor may give them a different iron preparation or a lower dose of the supplement.
If you have very low iron levels, you might need to take a course of supplements for months. This is because it can take quite a while for the body to replenish its low stores of this important mineral.
It also depends on why you are anemic, which will help determine how long it takes to get your levels back to normal. For instance, if your anemia is caused by menstrual bleeding, it will likely take longer than if you are suffering from low levels because of chronic illness.
Taking the right dosage of iron pills is also very important. Generally, the recommended dose is between 17 and 45 mg per day for adults. If you are unable to tolerate this level of iron, you should talk to your doctor. She may recommend a lower dose or a different iron formulation.
Most doctors suggest you take your iron pills on an empty stomach, as this will allow the supplement to be absorbed more easily. However, some people find that this makes them feel nauseous or even have stomach cramps. If this is the case for you, then it might be a good idea to take your pill with a small amount of food or drink, such as milk or orange juice.
You should also tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, as some of them can interfere with how well iron is absorbed. These include tetracycline, penicillin, ciprofloxacin and medicines for Parkinson’s disease and seizures. If you are taking any of these, then you will need to wait 2 hours before taking your iron pill.
Other considerations to keep in mind when taking iron supplements include how the tablets are prepared and what kind of tablet you are taking. For example, if you are prescribed iron sulfate, then combining it with vitamin C can help your body absorb the supplement better. This might be worth trying, especially if you are experiencing regular stomach upset with your supplement.
You should also avoid high-fiber foods while taking iron supplements, as they can interfere with how the pills are absorbed. Additionally, you should not take any antacids or medications that reduce stomach acid while taking iron, as this can decrease the amount of iron that your body actually absorbs.