Iron Supplements Everyday?
All cells contain some iron, however most of the iron within your body is in red blood cells (RBC). RBC’s transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and organs of the body. Iron also has a role in creating energy from nutrients and aids in the transmission of nerve impulses. If you have a surplus iron, it is stored in your body for use in the future.
The average person gets all the iron they need from the foods they eat, however, there are situations that may make it necessary to supplement with iron.
Iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition when there is not enough iron in your RBCs. Without adequate iron levels, the red blood cells cannot transport enough oxygen to your cells and tissues.
Symptoms of anemia:
- Difficulty Focusing
Causes of anemia:
- Blood loss from trauma
- Cancer of the digestive tract
- Peptic ulcer disease
- Gastrointestinal bleeding from long use of certain medications like ibuprofen and aspirin
You are Pregnant
Women who are not pregnant or nursing need to take around 15 to 18 milligrams of iron/day. Women who are pregnant need significantly more iron and the recommended daily intake of iron for pregnant women is about twenty-seven mg/day.
Do not double down on your prenatal multi-vitamins if you are concerned about your iron intake. This could cause excessive of other vitamins and may actually hurt your baby. Rather, speak with your doctor about iron supplements in addition to your prenatal multi-vitamins.
Female athletes have an increased risk for iron deficiency and researchers theorize that athletes overall need more red blood cells to carry oxygen so they can continue exercising.
Speak with your doctor if you are active and are experiencing symptoms of anemia.
Regular Blood Loss
People who suffer from excessive loss of blood also often need more iron. Regular blood donors and individuals who have gastrointestinal bleeding are at a higher risk and gastrointestinal bleeding can be caused by certain medications or conditions such as cancer and ulcers. Donating blood regularly is not recommended if you are always low in iron.
Use of Iron Depleting Medications
Certain medications will interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron including:
- Omeprazole and Ranitidine for stomach problems, heartburn and ulcers
- Quinolones, antibiotics that include ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin
- High Blood Pressure Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Cholesterol lowering bile acid sequastrants such as Cholestyramine and Colestipol
If you are concerned that one of your medications might be causing anemia, speak with your doctor.
Associated ACE inhibitor cough
Doctors prescribe ACE inhibitors to treat a number of conditions such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart disease
- Kidney Disease
- Type 2 diabetes
ACE inhibitors also may aid in preventing kidney disease in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
A dry cough is a common side effect of the medication and researchers found taking iron increased nitric oxide in the blood which helps to reduce ACE inhibitor-associated cough.
Iron supplements are available in capsules and tablets, however some individuals with extremely low levels of iron need intravenous iron.
Taking iron supplements with drinks or foods which contain high vitamin C will also help the body absorb the iron.
Please note: too much iron can be toxic, especially for children. And speak with your doctor to find out how long you need to take an iron supplement.