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How Long Does It Take For Iron Supplements To Work?

16th Apr, 2020  |  Claire O'Brien  |  Balanced Diet, Lifestyle

The first and most important thing you need to realise about iron and iron supplementation is that iron needs differ from person to person.

You might think that’s obvious, but if you were to Google “How long does it take for iron supplements to work?” you’ll mostly find specific answers like 2 weeks, 2 months, or even 2 years.

All of these may be true – because many factors come into play when determining when you should take iron, how iron is absorbed in your body, and how much iron you need.

That’s why today, we’ll examine each of them so you can make clearer, more informed decisions and achieve the results you’re looking for.

To start, let’s make a differentiation between how long it takes for iron to actually “work” and how long it takes for your body to “absorb” iron.

How Long Does It Take For Iron Pills To Work: Iron Absorption

Iron is absorbed in the small intestine (like most nutrients), specifically the duodenum.

But how long it takes for an iron tablet to be absorbed, depends largely on when and how you take it.

When you take an iron supplement and it enters the stomach, it’s exposed to stomach acid, it’s often at this point that people can experience nausea, gut irritation and constipation.

From the stomach, iron enters the mucosal sites of the duodenum.

A common problem with many iron supplements is that iron doesn’t make it all the way to the small intestine, where it is more easily absorbed.

Active Iron’s gentle formula remains in an easy to absorb state all the way through to the small intestine, thanks to its whey protein layer, which helps protect the iron from stomach acid.

In other words, iron will increase as soon as you start taking in more iron. But if you want to actually build up your intake and reap the benefits of iron supplementation, you’ll have to be a little more patient.

[Further reading: How iron is absorbed in your body]

How Long Does Iron Take To Get Into Your System After Taking Iron Tablets?

How long it takes for iron to get into your system depends largely on (1) why they were low in the first place and (2) how far below normal they were. The lower your current level, the longer it will take to build up a sufficient amount of iron in your system.

Consider the following cases:

    • If you need more iron because of menstruation, it will usually take a bit longer to build up because you’ll continue to experience blood loss with every period.
    • If your dietary intake of iron is insufficient, it may replenish very quickly if your supplement allows you to absorb it better.
    • And if you change your current dietary habits to focus more on rich sources of iron, it might still take a while to get your iron levels back to normal.

ow long iron take to build up in your body

How Long Should You Supplement With Iron? 

Achieving a noticeable benefit from iron supplementation can sometimes happen quickly, while other times, you’ll need to wait and supplement with iron for a sufficient amount of time to get your iron levels to a healthy state.

If you live a hectic lifestyle and you don’t have time to focus on creating an iron-rich diet, supplementation can help you get the necessary amount of iron and you can feel its benefits if you take it consistently.

You should still continue taking an iron supplement even when you reach optimal iron levels if you cannot get enough iron from your diet alone.

That being said, there are still a few vital factors you need to consider when you’re supplementing with iron.

Believe it or not, you can be taking an iron supplement daily and still not get the amount of iron you need – if your body is not absorbing it correctly. Let’s learn why that happens.


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The Most Important Factors To Consider When Taking An Iron Supplement

Your current diet and nutritional habits

An iron-rich diet can be challenging to sustain, especially if you need to build up a significant amount of iron.

In this section, we’re going to look at foods that decrease iron absorption, as well as foods that increase iron absorption.

Foods that decrease iron absorption

Some foods and nutrients are natural iron inhibitors – they diminish the absorption of iron and make it difficult for you to reach optimal levels.

These include:

  • Phytic acid (often found in grains and legumes)
  • Tannins
  • Polyphenols (found in tea)
  • Milk
  • Caffeine
  • Some of the proteins found in soybeans

(And, considering many people’s days start with a cup of coffee or a bowl of milk and cereal, we can quickly begin to see why iron absorption is a challenge.)

Foods that increase iron absorption

On the flip side, other foods are known for increasing your iron absorption, that’s why they’re often recommended alongside iron supplements.

These include:

  • Citrus items and citric acid – lemons, lemonade, oranges, orange juice
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene (1)
  • Beef (2)
  • Meats, fish, and poultry (3)

When will iron supplements start to work

When Will My Iron Supplements Start To Work: Conclusion

If you want to reap all the benefits of an optimal iron intake, you need to ensure you are absorbing iron well and that you are getting enough iron in your diet.

If your diet isn’t enough and you choose to supplement your iron intake, choose a supplement that provides optimum absorption and is kind on your stomach.

Active Iron supplements are designed with a unique formula, the protein layer makes them more easily absorbed and gentle on your stomach. Studies have proven that the Active Iron formula doubles the amount of iron compared to ferrous sulfate absorbed in the small intestine, all while being so gentle that you can take it on an empty stomach.

So if you want to know how long it will take for your iron supplements to work, start taking Active Iron today.

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