April 18, 2024
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why do iron supplements cause constipation

Iron is a crucial element in our body, helping to form healthy red blood cells. However, it can also cause constipation when taken in high doses.

It’s important to choose the right kind of iron supplement. One that is gentle on your stomach and won’t cause constipation. Start with the recommended dosage from your doctor and a low dose, then increase slowly over a few days.


Iron is an essential mineral that helps produce hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. People who don’t get enough iron in their diet can develop iron deficiency anemia, which causes fatigue and dizziness. Taking iron supplements can help restore the level of iron in the blood, but these pills are also known to cause constipation in some people.

The reason that iron pills are associated with constipation is that it is difficult for the cells that line your gastrointestinal tract to absorb large amounts of the mineral at one time. This can lead to GI discomfort, including constipation, nausea, gas and bloating. The best way to avoid these side effects is to start with a small dose of the iron pill and increase the amount over a few days as your body tolerates it.

Another way to reduce the GI side effects of iron is to take it with a source of vitamin C, such as orange juice or fruit. When Vitamin C combines with iron, it forms a compound called iron chelate, which is better absorbed in the intestines. You can also try taking sucrosomial iron, which uses a phospholipid bilayer and sucrosome to protect ferric pyrophosphate until it enters the intestines, making it more tolerable than other oral iron supplements.

It is also important to make sure that you are getting enough fiber in your diet. Foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, can help promote regular bowel movements. In addition, exercise can help stimulate a healthy bowel movement and improve constipation. If you are struggling with constipation due to iron supplementation, talk to your doctor for recommendations on how to resolve the problem. They can give you advice that is specific to your health needs and lifestyle. In some cases, they may recommend changing the type of iron you take or using a stool softener to treat the condition. They can also suggest ways to make your diet more nutrient-dense and include more foods that are good for your GI system. They may also prescribe a lower dose of iron to ensure that your body can absorb it properly.

Excess iron

Iron is an essential micronutrient that plays a critical role in the formation of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body. It is found naturally in meat, fish, eggs, beans and leafy vegetables, as well as in fortified breads and cereals. However, many people are deficient in iron and need to take supplements. Unfortunately, iron supplements can cause side effects such as constipation and diarrhoea, which can be very uncomfortable.

The type and dose of iron you take can play a big part in how your body responds. For example, heme iron derived from animal sources is more easily absorbed than non-heme (plant-based) iron. Similarly, trivalent iron salts such as ferrous sulfate are more likely to cause constipation than the chelated form of iron such as iron bisglycinate, which is more stomach-friendly.

One theory behind why iron causes constipation is that the high concentration of iron in the stomach creates an osmotic effect, pulling water from the lower gastrointestinal tract into the stomach. This causes stools to become more dehydrated, hard and smaller, making them more difficult to pass. Another theory is that excess iron can affect the bacteria in the gut, encouraging the growth of species like Protebacteria, which have been linked to chronic constipation.

Either way, you can minimize the constipation associated with iron supplements by taking them with food and increasing your intake of fluids. Ideally, try to pair your iron pill with orange juice or something else rich in Vitamin C, which will help enhance the absorption of the supplement.

You can also help to alleviate constipation associated with iron supplements by using a stool softener, which can be bought over-the-counter or with a prescription from your doctor. It is also a good idea to stick to the recommended dosage of iron, even if you are experiencing constipation, as deficiency can be dangerous.

In addition to dietary changes, it is important that you have regular blood tests done so that you can track your iron levels. These tests can identify an iron deficiency early on and help you to ensure that you are getting the right amount of iron in your diet.


Constipation is often associated with iron supplements but it’s important to know that this side effect can be avoided with proper diet and exercise. A high-fiber diet is one of the most effective ways to avoid constipation and can be achieved by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids – water in particular.

The type of iron you take is also a big factor in avoiding constipation. It is recommended to use a more stomach-friendly form of iron such as iron bisglycinate. This form is chelated, meaning it doesn’t react with other compounds in the digestive tract which can cause constipation in some people. However, even though iron bisglycinate is more stomach friendly than divalent iron salts (such as ferric citrate or ferrous sulfate) it is still not absorbed very well by the digestive system, so it can still cause constipation in some people.

Another reason why constipation is caused by iron supplements is that it increases the amount of methane gas produced in the gut. Methanogens are bacteria that produce methane as a waste product and they have been linked to constipation. It is thought that the increase in methanogens is caused by the osmotic effect of iron supplements which causes more water to be drawn from the lower bowel into the stomach. This results in dehydrated, hard and smaller stools which are difficult to pass.

Iron-induced constipation can also be caused by other medications and dietary habits. For example, if you are taking antibiotics, they can reduce the absorption of iron from your body. This is because antibiotics can damage the good bacteria in your gut and lead to a slowdown in your digestive system.

Other factors that can contribute to constipation are not getting enough fibre in your diet, not drinking enough fluids and not exercising regularly. Iron-induced constipation can be prevented by increasing your fibre intake, drinking lots of liquids and adding a probiotic to help keep your healthy. It is also best to take your iron supplement on an empty stomach if possible.


Iron is an essential nutrient that is not produced naturally in the body, so it must be ingested in the diet or through supplementation. However, iron supplements can cause constipation in some people. The reason for this is that the high concentration of iron in the stomach causes an osmotic effect that pulls water away from the lower gastrointestinal tract into the stomach. This results in the stools becoming dehydrated, harder and smaller, making them more difficult to pass. Additionally, excess iron can alter the gut microbiota and encourage the growth of Protebacteria, a species that has been linked to constipation.

Regardless of the type of iron supplement that you take, there are ways to avoid constipation caused by them. One way is to choose a non-ionic iron formula like BioFerra, which eliminates the problem of the iron splitting into ions in the stomach and causing irritation. Also, it can be helpful to drink plenty of fluids to keep the bowels hydrated and to include fiber-rich foods in your diet (e.g. whole grains, legumes, fruits).

It’s also important to talk with your healthcare provider before taking any iron supplement and be sure that you have a proper diagnosis of the cause of your constipation. Then you can be on the right track for getting back to a normal bowel movement routine.

If you are taking oral iron supplements, be sure to take them with food or with a source of vitamin C, which helps with absorption and can decrease the amount of iron in your GI tract. Finally, try to stay hydrated and exercise regularly to stimulate healthy bowel movements. If you are still experiencing constipation after trying these tips, consider adding a laxative to your daily routine for short-term use. Be sure to consult your physician before doing so, as this isn’t recommended for long-term use. Also, speak with your doctor about an iron supplement that is more tolerable for the GI tract such as iron bisglycinate, which has been shown to be less likely to cause constipation than conventional iron supplements.

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