Top 11 Best Iron Supplements
UpdatedJune 30, 2023
Iron is an essential mineral for growth and development. Iron deficiency, however, is common in people of all ages. Even though you can get this mineral from your daily food intake, dietary supplements are still recommended for some individuals.
We went through numerous options and compiled a list of the most effective options on the market. And the number one best iron supplement is Nature Made Iron Supplement because it provides a high dose of ferrous sulfate. It is used to treat severe iron deficiency. The second option we tested is Nature's Bounty Gentle Iron which offers a chemically altered form of iron that is gentle on your stomach. It also contains extra nutrients that are vital for our body.
Ancient Nutrition takes the third spot because of its use of adaptogenic herbs and superfoods to provide the much-needed iron. The supplement contains extra nutrients and does not have any artificial flavors or sweeteners. Before we discuss the rest of the options, let's dive into defining this crucial mineral and its necessary functions in the body.
What Is Iron?
Iron is one of the vital minerals that your body requires to function efficiently. It helps the body to carry oxygen and supports cell functioning, muscle growth, and brain development. Your body needs iron to produce myoglobin and hemoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein found in muscle cells responsible for storing oxygen and making it available when there is increased demand for it during muscle use. Hemoglobin, on the other hand, is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen by binding to it and transports it from your lungs to the rest of the body. Therefore, the body needs enough iron for these bodily functions; too little or too much can be risky.
You are more likely to get the right amount of iron from food sources. Nonetheless, you will need a supplement if you are at a high risk of iron deficiency due to a limited diet or a health condition. When a shortage of this vital mineral becomes severe, it may result in iron deficiency anemia. This condition is treated using dietary supplements.
When shopping for a supplement, you should go for one that meets your needs. It is best to seek counsel from your healthcare practitioner since they will prescribe one with the right dosage. Here are the 11 best iron supplements discussed in depth.
11 Best Iron Supplements of 2023
Nature Made Iron 65mg Tablets
The Editor's Choice
Experience the power of Nature Made Ferrous Sulfate: a potent solution for severe iron deficiency. While it provided the much-needed 65mg dose, my stomach had a bumpy ride. Don't worry, though! Taking it after a meal with ample water eases the discomfort. With 180 pure and affordable tablets, you're covered for the long haul.
If you are diagnosed with severe iron deficiency, your physician may recommend a high-dose supplement. My first interaction with Nature Made Ferrous Sulfate was under similar conditions. This brand was perfect since it provided me with 65 milligrams of ferrous sulfate. However, my stomach was not spared. Even though it was well-absorbed into my body, I kept dashing to the washroom. I later came to find out that the dosage level and form of iron used can bring about this complication. However, taking the supplement after a meal with a lot of water while swallowing can alleviate these symptoms.
With the 180 tablets in the jar, I knew I was sorted for a long time. Furthermore, this brand has undergone testing to ensure purity, performance, and potency. Plus, this iron supplement is affordable.
- It is affordable
- It contains ferrous sulfate, which is well-absorbed into the body
- USP Certified
- It is great for iron deficiency anemia
- It can cause stomach discomfort
Nature's Bounty named this supplement 'gentle iron' for a reason. I found out that it is a chelated iron supplement. Chelated iron is a supplementary form of iron that is chemically altered so that it does not break down during digestion. Additionally, what drew me to it was that it has ascorbic acid, which enhances iron absorption.
This brand provides 28 milligrams of iron which is enough for oral supplementation. The bottle contains 90 capsules only, which will last me about 3 months. I like that the capsules are smooth and easy to swallow. Also, the brand is fairly priced and contains folic acid and vitamin B12. These two make Nature's Bounty suitable for prenatal and pregnant women.
- Chelated Iron
- Gentle on tummy
- Contains Vitamin C and B12
- Contains 90 capsules only
I received Ancient Nutrition as a gift from a friend who had traveled. The story behind this product is interesting: it combines the principles of Chinese Medicine with modern science to bring out this iron supplement.
It is made using adaptogenic herbs, which are nutrient-dense. These herbs are sourced directly from the farms, ensuring the ingredients are high quality. Some of the herbs contained in this supplement include Wild Hake Roe and Bovine Liver, which help in detoxification. These extra features were a plus for me.
Moreover, the manufacturers do not use artificial sweeteners, binders, colors, or fillers to make the capsules. The supplement provides 18 milligrams of iron, supporting blood, cognitive, prenatal, and respiratory health.
The best feature of this brand is that it is gentle on the digestive tract. The bottle contains 30 capsules that can be taken at any time of the day, with or without food. These capsules make up a dose that is enough to last me one month.
- Made using adaptogenic herbs
- Has additional nutrients
- The iron provided per serving is low
I bumped into Country Life Easy Iron while I had gone for a refill. The supplement provides 25 milligrams of ferrous bisglycinate, which means it would be gentle on my tummy. I also learned that it is designed to promote the healthy production of red blood cells in the body.
The brand was keen on carrying out third-party testing and received certification from the American Vegetarian Association and NSF. It is also certified kosher, non-GMO, and gluten-free. All these perks gave me confidence in using this product.
Country Life suggests you take the supplement with food. You can also pair it with vitamin C-rich food such as orange juice, which will help in the absorption of iron.
- Recommended for vegans and vegetarians
- Easily absorbed
- Gentle on the tummy
- It does not contain vitamin C for easy absorption
After swallowing pills and chewing tablets for so long, I had to try out a liquid iron supplement. I settled on Garden of Life Mykind Organics Plant Iron & Organic Herbs. This liquid supplement is made by blending iron from various organic foods with vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
What drew me to this product is the fact it is easy to use; I add it to water or juice and drink the supplement. Very convenient if you ask me. It takes away the stress of feeling like you are under medication.
The downside of this liquid supplement is that it provides 10 milligrams of iron only. This is not sufficient to correct iron deficiency. Additionally, the list of ingredients used in this product is extensive. Be sure to go through the entire list in case there is any ingredient that you are allergic to.
Moreover, you should have your healthcare provider review the list to ensure that none of the ingredients interact with other drugs you may be taking. The fact that this supplement is third-party tested and certified gives me peace of mind. Plus, it is organic, vegan, and gluten-free.
- Iron is from whole food sources
- It is easily absorbed
- It contains extra nutrients from the other ingredients used
- The amount of iron may not correct iron deficiency
- The wide range of ingredients may be time-consuming to go through
I have always wanted to try out chewable and sweet supplements. I tried the Fusion Lifestyle Iron Supplement because they are packaged beautifully. I can assure you that they are as good as they look. They are soft and come in fruity flavors; grape and cherry. Grape is my favorite.
One chewable gummy carries about 45 milligrams of iron, providing enough minerals for your body's needs. I also liked this brand more because the daily serving contains 60 milligrams of vitamin C. This enhances iron absorption.
- Soft to chew and easy to swallow
- Quick absorption of iron because of vitamin C
- Two unique flavor options to choose from
- They are expensive
Thorne Iron Bisglycinate is a favorite among athletes and pro teams. They prefer this product because of its ability to fight fatigue and other iron deficiency symptoms. This oral supplement is also NSF Certified for sports. I was impressed that the company takes its products through four rounds of testing and that its manufacturing facility is third-party tested.
The supplement is in capsule form, and I found it easy to swallow. Each capsule has 25 milligrams of iron bisglycinate, and this form of iron is readily absorbed into the body. It is also gentle and does not cause any stomach discomfort.
Thorne is not recommended for a person with severe iron deficiency because of its low iron content. The capsules are also dairy, gluten, and soy free.
- NSF certified for sport
- Easily absorbed into the body
- Does not cause stomach discomfort
- Gluten, dairy, and soy free
- It is expensive
- It cannot be used for severe iron deficiency
With the increased awareness of healthy living, a lot of people are watching what they consume. MegaFood Blood Builder Iron is a perfect supplement for these individuals. I loved that it has been formulated with natural foods such as broccoli, orange, and beets and combines these three flavors in the bottle. These capsules are gluten, dairy, soy, and GMO-free, which makes them safe options for people on different diets.
Another interesting feature is that MegaFood is gentle on the stomach. No more tummy upsets for me when using it. I take one capsule a day at any time of the day, and each is easy to swallow.
It also contains vitamin C and folic acid for healthy red blood cell production. This product is clinically proven to increase iron levels with no side effects.
- Natural iron supplement
- Improves iron and energy levels quickly
- Has other nutrients
- No side effects
- The beetroot scent on some capsules may bother some users
Now Liquid Iron is another supplement I tried. It provides 18 milligrams of iron in the form of ferric glycinate. This is a gentle form of iron that is less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and nausea. This point had me sold because I did not want the tummy discomfort.
What I appreciate most about this product is that it does not contain added sugars; they use xylitol to sweeten it. This is good for a person who is managing their blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, ingesting large amounts of xylitol can result in bloating.
This liquid iron supplement is GMP Quality Assured which means that every aspect of the manufacturing process has been examined. This includes laboratory methods that have been tested for product formulation, potency, and stability.
- Great choice if you do not like swallowing pills or chewing tablets
- GMP Quality Assured
- Not suitable for people with food allergies
HUM Base Control is a woman's best friend. It is a multivitamin that is designed to support women's health, and it contains 22 nutrients and iron meant to supplement your diet. Its contents made me get it for my mum. I knew I had made the right choice after finding out that it supports pre-menopausal symptoms in women.
What stands out about HUM Base Control is its formulation. It contains vitamins A, C, D3, E, and vitamin complex. It also contains magnesium, zinc, and calcium for additional support. This was definitely what my mother required. After all, as we continue to age, most minerals are depleted from our bodies.
The bottle contains 30 capsules which she will use for thirty days. She also does not have to schedule a time to take it because it can be taken with food. I also learned that HUM Nutrition focuses on producing vegan products. The multivitamins are gluten-free and non-GMO. The product is also third-party tested and GMP certified to ensure that good manufacturing processes are followed.
- It is affordable
- It contains extra nutrients
- Vegan and gluten-free
- The capsules do not have a desirable smell
The Needed Iron supplement offers support to women in different stages, namely: prenatal, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and postpartum. It is a great pick for pregnant ladies because it is nausea free and does not cause constipation.
It provides 13.5 milligrams of ferrous sulfate per capsule. However, you will be required to adjust the dosage based on your iron needs. It is also important to seek a physician's advice before taking them. Also, the pack has 60 capsules which do not last long because of the increased dosage levels.
The feature that I appreciated most about this brand is that it offers the iron bisglycinate chelate form, which is highly absorbable. It is extremely gentle on the stomach. Moreover, the supplement is taken on its own, even on an empty stomach, but do not be tempted to take it with other multivitamins. The fact that it is non-GMO, vegan, allergen-free, and has no additives gave me more confidence about trying it though the product is not third-party tested.
- The dose can be adjusted to fit the requirement
- It is easily absorbed into the body
- Vegan and allergen-free
- Gentle on the stomach
- Can be used for prenatal, pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding
- Not third-party tested
- Should be taken separately from other multivitamins
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Iron Supplements
1. Form of Iron
There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron, also known as ferrous iron, is only found in animal products such as meat and is highly absorbable. Non-heme or ferric iron is found in plant and meat products. However, other substances, such as plant compounds, hinder its absorption, but vitamin C helps absorb this type of iron.
While looking for an iron supplement, always check the form being offered. Furthermore, most oral supplements are manufactured using non-heme iron paired with vitamin C.
2. Iron dosage
The amount of iron needed in the body differs from one person to another. Some people may have health conditions that would require a higher dosage. For instance, those with iron deficiency anemia need more iron content in their supplements.
Word of caution: Too much iron may result in iron toxicity which may overwork the liver and result in serious health problems.
3. Ingredients and Potential Interactions
Some iron supplements are manufactured in conjunction with other ingredients. While they offer extra nutrients to the body, it is important to read through the list of ingredients and check their nutritional facts.
More importantly, seeking a doctor's opinion about the extra ingredients is advisable. The list may contain ingredients that interact with other medications that you may be taking. Also, the physician can check whether the ingredients included are equal to the recommended daily value.
4. Type of Iron Supplements
There are numerous types of oral iron supplements on the market today. They are available in tablets, capsules, or liquid form. Depending on your lifestyle, you can choose a supplement that is most convenient for you.
For example, people who struggle swallowing pills prefer liquid or chewable supplements. Some people are concerned that liquid supplements may stain their teeth, so they take the pills. There is a type for everyone.
5. Possible Side-Effects
The most common side-effect of oral iron supplementation is gastrointestinal issues. These include diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and indigestion. These side effects result from dosage and continued use of iron supplements.
Some forms of iron are not gentle on the stomach. Therefore, drinking a lot of water when taking them is advisable. Alternatively, you can take the supplement after meals.
6. Level of Elemental Iron
When choosing oral supplements, always look for the amount of elemental iron. Elemental iron is the amount of iron that is available for absorption by your body. After all, this determines the dosage per serving.
For example, a supplement containing 325 mg of ferrous sulfate may provide around 65 mg of elemental iron per serving. However, another supplement with 300 mg of ferrous gluconate might only provide about 35 mg of elemental iron per serving.
The recommended dosage of iron supplements is often determined based on the individual's iron needs, such as the severity of iron deficiency or the specific health condition being addressed. It's essential to follow the healthcare practitioner's guidance and the product label instructions to ensure safe and effective iron supplementation. Taking excessive amounts of iron can be harmful, so it's crucial to be mindful of the elemental iron content in the supplement and stick to the prescribed dosage.
Still, individuals who are mainly on a plant-based diet should be keen on their iron uptake because some compounds they consume inhibit iron absorption. But, if you have an iron-only supplement, you can take it with orange juice.
Dietary supplements are used to treat conditions such as iron deficiency anemia. Pregnant women are also candidates for supplemental iron. After all, they need it to increase blood volume to support the new life growing in the womb.
Moreover, women require iron supplements because they lose blood during their menses. Some of them experience heavy menstrual bleeding that brings about symptoms of iron deficiency, such as fatigue, dizziness, headache, and pale skin, to name a few. Also, individuals who suffer from ulcers and celiac disease require oral iron supplementation.
Benefits of Taking Iron Supplements
1. Increase Hemoglobin
Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to various body organs and tissues. On the other hand, hemoglobin enables red blood cells to transport oxygen efficiently throughout the body.
While iron is a critical component of hemoglobin and plays a key role in oxygen transport, it is not the only factor influencing the production of red blood cells. Other nutrients like vitamin B12 and folic acid are also essential for red blood cell synthesis.
2. Promote Cognitive Performance
Low iron levels have a negative impact on cognitive performance. Since the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, your brain does not get sufficient oxygen. Hence, iron supplementation ensures your body has enough iron. It helps to restore optimal bodily functions such as enhancing memory, sharpening focus, and other cognitive roles.
3. Support Healthy Pregnancy
During pregnancy, red blood cell production and blood volume increase drastically to provide oxygen and nutrients for the growing fetus. Therefore, pregnant women require more iron. Low iron can also risk the life of the growing fetus and result in premature birth or damage their cognitive development.
Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women take between 30 and 60 milligrams of iron every day. These levels promote the production of healthy red blood cells and increased blood volume.
4. Improves Athletic Performance
Iron supplements can benefit an athlete by enhancing oxygen transport through increased hemoglobin levels, improving endurance, and reducing the risk of iron deficiency anemia. Sufficient iron levels support optimal oxygen delivery to muscles during exercise, enhancing overall performance and recovery. However, it is crucial for athletes to consult with a healthcare professional before starting iron supplementation to ensure appropriate dosing and prevent potential side effects.
5. Boost Immunity
Iron is a crucial mineral for the immune system's proper functioning. It plays a vital role in several immune-related processes, including the proliferation and differentiation of immune cells, such as T cells, B cells, and natural killer (NK) cells. These immune cells recognize and fight against pathogens, viruses, and bacteria.
Furthermore, iron is involved in cytokine production, signaling molecules that regulate immune responses. Adequate iron levels support the balanced production of cytokines, ensuring a well-coordinated immune defense against infections.
Iron also contributes to forming and activating enzymes and proteins involved in various immune reactions. For example, iron is essential for the synthesis of myeloperoxidase, an enzyme used by neutrophils to kill invading microorganisms.
When an individual has iron deficiency (iron-deficiency anemia), the immune system may become compromised. The reduced number and impaired function of immune cells can lead to a weakened defense against infections, making the person more susceptible to illnesses.
How to Incorporate Iron Supplements into your diet
Start by consulting a healthcare professional to determine if supplementation is necessary. If advised to take iron supplements, follow the recommended dosage and timing provided by your healthcare provider. It's best to take iron supplements with vitamin C-rich foods to enhance absorption.
However, prioritize obtaining iron from dietary sources such as lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables. Avoid taking iron supplements with calcium-rich foods or beverages, as they can hinder iron absorption. Regularly monitor iron levels and adjust supplement usage based on healthcare professional guidance.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Iron Supplement
1. Can I eat iron-rich food and take iron supplements at the same time?
Yes. However, you should consult a healthcare practitioner who will first carry out a blood test to confirm your hemoglobin levels. The physician will then advise you on the correct diet to follow and recommend the best iron supplement. This will ensure that you ingest the right amounts. For some people, eating iron-rich foods solves iron deficiency, and they do not require supplements.
2. Which is the best form of Iron to take?
The best form to take is heme iron found in poultry, seafood, and meat. It is easily absorbed into the body. However, most iron supplements contain non-heme iron. This one is found in plant foods. Most of them are paired with vitamin C, which enables the body to absorb iron easily.
3. How quickly can I raise my iron levels?
You can quickly raise your iron levels by eating iron-fortified foods like poultry. Oral iron supplements also help to boost iron levels. However, speaking to a physician before settling on a supplement is advisable.
4. Which type of iron supplement is best?
Iron supplements that contain ferrous salts are the best. These include either ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, or ferrous gluconate. These types are more bioavailable.
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