Virtual Clinic for Women's Hormonal Health & Digestion in Ontario

Best Iron Supplements

Herbal medicine and herbs

Which iron supplement works best?

There are a lot of different iron supplements on the market, but which are the best iron supplements? Many are associated with digestive side effects. Usually what this means is that the dose the patient is taking is greater than what they are able to absorb, so the excess iron stays in the intestines and leads to constipation, or stomach upset (pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting).

The Association of Ontario Midwives has an extensive list of iron supplement options HERE.

Finding the right iron supplement for you

There is not one iron supplement that is perfect for everyone. Depending on their digestive function, their starting ferritin levels, their B12 status, their ability to swallow pills, etc, we have to select iron supplementation that will be easy to maintain.

Iron testing

Usually we start supplementation after baseline testing, and then re-test 3 months later to be sure we’re on the right track. Ideally we are aiming for 80ug/L of ferritin before we discontinue supplementation and rely solely on the diet (this of course depends on the patient’s menstrual status, or other sources of blood loss like blood donation).

Iron supplement dosage

I tend to use an iron bisglycinate at about 25-30mg per day, and have the patient take it in tandem with vitamin C, and away from food if possible. This level usually gets the patient’s levels up just as quickly as the typically prescribed, but less absorbable, ferrous fumarate or ferrous gluconate (at 150, 300 or sometimes even 600mg per day), and does so without causing constipation and tar-coloured stool. Win win!

And of course, it’s always important to make sure you’re getting plenty of digestible and absorbable iron in your diet, and that you’re not losing excessive blood via heavy periods. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about assessing and managing your iron levels.

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