Only take iron supplements if they have been recommended to you in order to treat anaemia. (Anaemia is a condition where a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells).
How do the supplements work?
Iron is needed for the production of haemoglobin, which is an essential ingredient in red blood cells. Haemoglobin is very important as it carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
If you don’t have enough iron, you can develop anaemia, which means that you aren’t making enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body. You may become breathless, tired and have a lack of energy, your skin may become pale and you may have palpitations (noticeable heartbeats).
Which types of iron supplements are available?
• Ferrous sulphate (high strength tablets)
• Ferrous fumarate (high strength tablets or syrup)
• Ferrous gluconate (medium strength tablets)
• liquid iron supplements (low strength) for women who experience constipation in relation to higher strength versions
How do I take them?
You should take your iron supplements on an empty stomach (preferably one hour before a meal) with a drink containing vitamin C, such as a glass of orange juice or another juice drink with added vitamin C. New evidence has shown that taking iron supplements every other day can increase their effectiveness. The precise instructions for when to take your supplements will be discussed with you by the healthcare professional who prescribes them.
Why is the way I take them important?
What side effects might I get?
• stomach upset
• nausea (feeling sick)
• stomach ache
What happens now?
You will be asked to have a repeat blood test three to six weeks after you start taking your iron supplement, to check for a response to the treatment.
Click here for a useful link with more information.