Iron supplements help increase the iron reserves in the body. But who should buy them and what to expect from them? Read on to find out.
Iron supplements are ideal for people whose diets do not provide this mineral. Who really needs them? Aren’t they something you should consume often?
Iron is required for the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells. Therefore, its deficiency can lead to complications. Read on to know more about it.
Causes of iron deficiency
When iron levels in the blood drop, the body has difficulty in carrying oxygen to tissues. Therefore, the main symptoms of this deficiency are weakness in the hands and feelings, fatigue, headache, pallor, and coldness. Therefore, these symptoms may indicate the presence of anemia.
As a result of this deficiency, you notice that the body’s work capacity and motor activity decrease. All this changes the immune system and thus the risk of disease increases. Also, low levels of this mineral contribute to a lack of vitamin A mobility in the liver.
Foods containing iron can help reduce the risk of anemia, but sometimes it is not enough.
When to take an iron supplement?
Fortunately, iron supplements can prevent or treat these complications once they start. They need to be part of a balanced diet for better results.
According to several studies, some population groups have more requirements for this mineral. It can be a result of malnutrition or human development stages associated with anemia, such as:
Pregnant women need more iron for themselves and their babies. If iron deficiency is severe during pregnancy, the risk of anemia increases. It should also be used if the child has a low birth weight, is born prematurely, or has a low red blood cell count in the early period.
The World Health Organization states that more than 40% of pregnant women in the world have anemia. This could indicate that half of this population is iron deficient.
Therefore, pregnant women and breastfeeding women should consult their doctors about the ideal supplement to prevent this problem. They can be prescribed in the form of drops or tablets. Severe cases will require an injection form, especially if the pregnant woman is experiencing uncontrollable vomiting.
2. Babies and young children
Iron deficiency can lead to delays in psychological development, social isolation, and reduced attention skills. In addition, if a sufficient amount of food containing this mineral is not included in the diet, this deficiency may develop in term babies.
3. Women and adolescents of ovulation age
Some women of reproductive age are prone to a deficiency of this nutrient. Generally, this is due to heavy menstrual bleeding. Therefore, iron losses are higher than other people.
In addition, adolescents have increased needs due to their developmental stage, and this is exacerbated during heavy menstrual periods. Total uterine bleeding in young women starting to see is a common cause of anemia.
4. Regular blood donors
These individuals are prone to iron deficiency, but they can prevent this by adhering to the optimal time interval between one donation and another.
5. Anemia due to chronic disease
According to various studies, chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and certain types of cancer can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use iron. Therefore, people with these conditions often have insufficient iron.
Iron supplements should be prescribed by a doctor as they do not always help.
Things to consider when using iron supplements
Iron supplements are available in capsule, tablet, chewable, and liquid forms. Ferrous sulfate is the most common but there are other chemical forms such as gluconate and fumarate.
It is important to keep in mind that these are better absorbed when taken on an empty stomach. However, ingestion can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. To avoid these problems, take them with a small amount of food.
Additionally, calcium and antacids interfere with their absorption, so you should wait at least two hours before taking milk, cheese, raw vegetables, caffeine, and other medications. Conversely, types of vitamin C-containing foods such as citrus fruits and kiwi can promote more efficient iron absorption.
Routine blood tests are recommended to ensure iron deficiency. This method determines the exact red blood cell count and hemoglobin values. If necessary, it is also possible to measure iron concentrations in blood and carrier proteins.
Should you take an iron supplement?
These drugs are an effective strategy to increase body reserves, but their use is not suitable for everyone. Remember that ingestion of any substance not prescribed by a doctor is contraindicated, its overuse also leads to complications.
Additionally, it’s best to follow a well-balanced diet high in iron. Remember that supplements are not magic and do not represent the only strategy against anemia. Similarly, the decrease in red blood cells is not always due to iron deficiency.