The average American gets their daily iron needs met through diet. However, in certain circumstances, some people may not be getting enough iron from diet alone. In these casesiron supplements may be able help.
The amount of iron you need varies depending on your gender, age, and general health. For healthy adult males, the recommended dietary allowance of iron is around 8 - 10 milligrams per day. That number refers to the amount of iron that is actually absorbed into your body; the number on your iron pills may not match it exactly. For healthy adult women over age 50, that number is the same as for men. However, the recommended daily allowance of iron for adult females between the ages of 19 and 50 is around 10 - 15 milligrams per day. This is to help compensate for iron lost through menstruation. If you are pregnant, your iron needs will be even higher. However, each person is unique. Before taking any iron pills, you should ask your doctor what the appropriate dose of iron is for you.
Potential signs of an iron deficiency include: difficulty exercising, shortness of breath, fatigue, cold hands or feet, brittle nails, hair loss, a fast heartbeat, and strange cravings for dirt or clay. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. He or she can do a simple blood test to check for anemia (iron deficiency). Your doctor can also make sure your symptoms are not due to a more serious condition and help you formulate a treatment plan if necessary.
Iron supplements can help increase the amount of iron in persons who are not getting enough. However, be cautious – it is dangerous to take in too much iron. You should work closely with your doctor to ensure that you are getting a safe, beneficial amount of iron. Iron pills may cause side effects. Some of the most common side effects are gastrointestinal distress, nausea, and vomiting. Check in with your doctor if you are feeling abnormal while taking iron supplements. He or she can help you find out what is causing your symptoms and what to do about them.
It is best to take iron supplements on an empty stomach. You should swallow iron pills with your choice of water or fruit juice either 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating a meal. However, if you are concerned about the possibility of an upset stomach, your doctor may instruct you to take your iron pills with food or immediately following a meal. When used under the supervision of a doctor, iron pills are generally safe. However, if you experience any side effects, you should call your doctor as soon as possible.