How to Take Iron Supplements for Best Absorption
If you want to learn how to take iron supplements for best absorption, this article is for you.
In this article, you are going to learn:
- What form of iron is best absorbed?
- When to take iron for best absorption (in the morning or at night)?
- What is the safest, easiest, and most effective way to absorb iron supplements?
- Which drinks will help you to increase iron absorption?
- Does Vitamin C help you with iron absorption?
- What interferes with iron absorption?
- Does coffee prevent iron absorption?
Let us begin by addressing the different forms of iron and how each of them is absorbed.
Which form of iron is best absorbed?
Iron has only two forms – heme iron and non-heme iron. Hemoglobin and myoglobin are forms of heme iron. Heme iron is mostly found in animal foods while non-heme iron is abundant in plant-based foods.
Excellent sources of heme iron include chicken, fish, and beef. On the other hand, you can find non-heme iron in foods like oats, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Your intestine absorbs heme iron far more quickly than non-heme iron. However, if you have issues with digesting foods or absorbing iron from food sources, an iron supplement like Active Iron that is light on their stomach may help you to reach the iron intake you need each day.
When should I take iron, morning or night?
There is some debate about the best time to take iron supplements.
Should you take them in the morning or at night?
The simple answer is to make taking iron supplements part of your daily routine so you can be consistent.
To ensure that your body will absorb iron effectively, you should take iron 30 minutes to 2 hours after a meal. Active Iron is kind on your stomach which means you can even take it in the morning before breakfast.
You should keep in mind that some foods and drinks interfere with how well your body absorbs iron, but we will come back to them later.
Further reading: What’s the best time to take iron?
What is the best way to absorb iron supplements?
If your lifestyle or diet make it hard for you to get enough iron through food alone, due to increased demand for iron or absorption issues, an iron supplement may be right for you
Before you go out and buy the biggest dose or cheapest iron supplement, you should know that iron supplements may cause unwanted side effects like nausea, reflux, and constipation.
However, Active Iron works in tune with your body, allowing better absorption, with reduced GI side effects. Active Iron’s non-constipating formula has clinically proven x 2 absorption than standard ferrous sulphate (wang et al).
Here are a few ways you can maximize the absorption of iron supplements:
- Do not take iron with calcium supplements. If you take both, consume them at different times throughout the day.
- Take iron away from meals that contain calcium rich foods or foods containing phytates such as leafy green vegetables.
- If you want to take it in the morning, take it with a water or juice.
- Avoid consuming foods and drinks like eggs, tea, coffee and chocolate with iron rich foods or supplements because they hinder iron absorption.
What Drinks Help Iron Absorption?
Like we mentioned before, some drinks may interfere negatively with iron absorption. On the flip side, some drinks improve iron absorption.
As a general rule, you should know that anything containing Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. Drinks like orange juice, or water with lemon are a great place to start. You could also take your Vitamin C supplement and iron together as part of your routine. Taking your iron supplement with water will also help you improve its absorption.
Does Vitamin C help with iron absorption?
Taking an iron supplement with Vitamin C greatly improves iron absorption, especially non-heme iron. That’s because Vitamin C stores non-heme iron in a more easily digestible form. If you’re vegetarian or you avoid certain meats, adding foods like citrus, melons, or strawberries will help you improve iron absorption without upsetting your stomach.
If you eat a lot of iron-rich foods, taking iron with a drink containing Vitamin C will help you absorb iron more efficiently.
As Active Iron targets the body’s natural site of absorption, the DMT-1, it does not require Vitamin C to act as a carrier for absorption and so can be taken with water.
What interferes with iron absorption?
We discussed what foods and drinks help with iron absorption, but now it’s time to discuss what may hinder iron absorption. As we said before, minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium interfere with the absorption of iron, so if you take these supplements you should space them out throughout the day.
Certain grains, legumes, and fibre can inhibit your iron absorption. This is particularly relevant to vegetarians or those eating plant based. Try taking your iron supplement up to 2 hours after a meal to ensure this doesn’t happen.
For the people who love eating eggs, we have some bad news. Egg proteins also hinder iron absorption. That’s why you should not take iron before or after a meal containing eggs.
Also, polyphenols in drinks like coffee and black tea disturb iron absorption.
Does coffee prevent iron absorption?
There are a lot of studies that say “Yes” and the strength of your brew is important.
The stronger your coffee is, the less iron you are going to absorb. However, it is not only the caffeine that interferes with your iron absorption. Studies have shown that caffeine is responsible for only a 6% decrease in iron absorption. Compounds including chlorogenic acid also found in cocoa and some herbs, and tannins inhibit iron absorption.
To drink coffee or caffeine-rich drinks without interfering with your absorption of iron, you can drink it one hour before taking an iron supplement.
Conclusion: How to take iron supplements for best absorption.
To conclude, here is a short summary of the steps you must take to ensure your iron supplements are being absorbed.
- If you have a sensitive stomach, it is best to take iron after a meal.
- If you do not have a sensitive stomach, you can take your iron supplement in the morning with water or a drink containing Vitamin C.
- When you take iron, you should avoid eating certain foods and drinks like eggs, legumes, coffee, and tea for two hours.
- Don’t take iron with calcium and magnesium supplements because they hinder iron absorption
Remember: taking a supplement is not a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.