Side effects of alternative iron supplementation: a pilot study.


Roth JL, Pugh LC




Pa Nurse


Iron deficiency anemia is a significant health problem for women. An intervention utilizing home visits by a nurse and the intake of alternate iron supplements was examined. Outcome measures of hematocrit levels and side effects are reported in this manuscript. Ten African-American inner city homeless women in transitional housing agreed to participate in this longitudinal study. Each participant was encouraged to take the alternate iron supplements for a three month period. Hematocrit values increased from recruitment through the third month. A paired t-test was significant (t value -5.39; df, 9; p < .0001). In addition, the side effect of fatigue decreased from recruitment through the third month. A paired t-test was significant (t value 3.18: df, 7: p = .015). During the weekly and monthly visits, when the subjects were asked if the supplements had any effect on their feelings of well-being, two women stated they had "little effects." In terms of side effects there were no complaints of nausea, stomach ache, or black tarry stools. Of the approximately 12 visits to each subject, constipation was reported only two times by two subjects. While the women did not report black stools they did offer that the vitamins seemed to color their stools green (three reported it one time and two subjects reported it three times). The benefits and the lack of side effects may have far-reaching implications for client populations such as the elderly and pregnant women who typically have difficulty with anemia and constipation alike. The weekly visits by the nurse may have added to the compliance and success of this program.