Does Taking Iron Affect Your Period?

Monthly periods are the most common cause of iron loss worldwide. Research shows that women of childbearing age need up to x2 more daily iron than men. The average menstrual period lasts anywhere from two to five days. Estimates suggest that 220 to 250mg of iron per pint of blood is lost during menstruation. This can vary over a woman’s lifetime due to changes in iron stores, changing contraceptives, the use of intrauterine devices, or certain medications.

To help you find out more about your period and iron, we will cover:

Taking Iron During Your Period

A woman’s natural iron regulatory system increases absorption of iron from her diet during times of blood loss. Her normal absorption rate of 1-milligram increases to 1.5–3 milligrams per day.  It is the female body’s natural response to blood loss. It can be difficult to meet the increase in iron through diet alone. Particularly in women with low red meat intake, plant-based diets, and after childbirth.

Amongst women who experience heavier periods adequate daily iron intake is particularly important and may be difficult to achieve with diet alone.

Can I always get enough iron from food during my periods?

You can get iron from food. It may not be enough to meet your daily intake due to menstruation. Women can lose up to half a pint of blood during each menstrual cycle.

Even if you are making an effort to ingest more iron by eating meat. Most health authorities recommend a safe upper intake of only 500g of red meat per week. Several factors must be present before our bodies can absorb iron and use it. A healthy digestive system and an adequate amounts of nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, and B complex. Proteins that carry the nutrients into the bloodstream need to be in our diet for the absorption of iron.

Some iron-rich foods include:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Grains
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Dark, leafy greens.

Avoid caffeine immediately after your meals, since this substance can decrease iron absorption. Vitamin C, on the other hand, can make it easier for your digestive system to absorb iron.

Iron Supplements During Your Period

If you do decide to increase your iron intake through iron supplements. It is important to choose one that is kind on your stomach and strong on absorption. While ferrous sulfate is considered the ‘gold standard’, these tablets may cause gut irritation leading to constipation and nausea.

Active Iron contains a non-constipating iron formula that uses innovative technology to target the body’s natural site of absorption in the small intestine. Active Iron is clinically proven to have x2 better absorption of ferrous sulfate and is kind enough to take on an empty stomach.

Frequently asked questions about iron and menstruation:

Can I take iron during my period?

Iron supplementation in menstruating women can be an effective treatment when compared to no treatment, placebo, or daily supplementation. Active Iron has fewer side effects (According to a clinical study) so you can take it daily during your period. [Source]

How much iron should I take during my period?

Iron is an essential nutrient in our blood. Due to blood loss during menstruation, people who have periods may need to supplement their iron intake. If you have periods, you need to consume 18 mg per day of iron, while people who don’t get periods need only 8 mg per day. [Source]

Does taking iron supplements make your period heavier?

Iron supplements & food changes won’t affect an underlying cause of excess bleeding during your period. If you have heavy periods, it is worth consulting your doctor. [Source]

For more information check out our period hub.

Avril Flynn

Avril Flynn


Avril Flynn is a registered midwife and mum of one. As an expert in women’s health, Avril has been helping women gain knowledge and confidence for years. She takes a holistic approach to ensure parents feel empowered as they navigate parenthood. @AvrilTheMidwife