Articles

Iron

Introduction

Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen through the body via red blood cells. Iron is also involved in the conversion of blood sugar to energy. It provides a crucial building block for the production of enzymes that are involved with making new cells, amino acids, hormones and neurotransmitters.

Liver is by far the richest iron-containing food. Other good sources of iron-rich foods include organ meats, fish and poultry. Dried beans and vegetables are the best plant sources, followed by dried fruits, nuts, and whole grain breads and cereals. Fortification of cereals, flours and bread with iron has contributed significantly to daily dietary iron consumption.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

10-50mg daily. Under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner doses between 50-100mg, three times a day for a limited time are commonly used for iron deficiency.

Most Common Dosage

15mg daily.

200mg of elemental iron
= ~1.66g ferric pyrophosphate
= ~1.66g ferrous gluconate
= ~1g ferrous sulfate
= ~0.66g ferrous sulfate, dried
= ~0.61g ferrous fumarate
= ~0.42g ferrous carbonate, anhydrous

Dosage Forms

Capsules, tablets, time-released capsules, liquid, and injectable iron drug products (Rx only).

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Depletions

Reported Uses

Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen by hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. It is also utilized to store oxygen in the muscles. Other important activities requiring iron include liver detoxification, (1) the metabolism of fatty acids, and the synthesis of carnitine and the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Iron is essential for the production of collagen and elastin, which provide structural integrity and elasticity for organs and tissues. Iron is necessary for optimal immune function. (2)

Supplementation with iron can treat a number of disorders associated with iron deficiencies. These include iron deficiency anemia, menorrhagia (iron deficiency resulting from excessive menstrual flow), and iron deficiency resulting from pregnancy. (3) , (4) , (5) , (6) Iron has also been used to treat restless legs syndrome. (7)

Iron affects immune function and microbial growth. In one study, elevated iron status increased susceptibility to infections. (8)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines. However, long term or excess iron supplementation can cause problems. Individuals should not consume iron supplements unless their physician has determined that iron supplementation is necessary.

Iron poisoning only occurs in cases of extreme overdose. For this reason, keep iron supplements out of reach of children

Side Effects

Side effects are possible with any dietary supplement. This dietary supplement may cause nausea, vomiting, constipation and black stools. (9) Also, iron-containing liquids may temporarily stain the teeth. (10) Dilute the liquid to reduce this possibility. When iron-containing drops are given to infants, the membrane covering the teeth may darken. Tell your doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Proper nutrition is essential during pregnancy for the healthy development of the fetus. Numerous vitamins and minerals are a vital part of proper nutrition. If you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breast-feeding an infant, talk to your healthcare professional about supplementing your diet with appropriate vitamins and minerals.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of proper growth and development. Talk to your healthcare professional about the appropriate use of vitamins and minerals in children. Do not use any vitamin or mineral in children under 2 years of age unless first discussed with your healthcare professional.

References

  1. View Abstract: Cederbaum AI. Iron and CYP2E1-dependent oxidative stress and toxicity. Alcohol. Jun2003;30(2):115-20.
  2. View Abstract: Ahluwalia N, Sun J, Krause D, Mastro A, Handte G. Immune function is impaired in iron-deficient, homebound, older women. Am J Clin Nutr. Mar2004;79(3):516-21.
  3. Hallberg L. Combating Iron Deficiency: Daily Administration of Iron is Far Superior to Weekly Administration. Am J clin Nutr. Aug1998;68(2):213-17.
  4. View Abstract: Arvidsson B, et al. Iron Prophylaxis in Menorrhagia. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1981;60(2):157-60.
  5. View Abstract: Schwartz 3rd WJ, et al. Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnancy. Clin Obstet Gynecol. Sep1995;38(3):443-54.
  6. View Abstract: Barr F, et al. Reducing iron deficiency anaemia due to heavy menstrual blood loss in Nigerian rural adolescents. Public Health Nutr. Dec1998;1(4): 249-57.
  7. View Abstract: O'Keeffe ST, Gavin K, Lavan JN. Iron Status and Restless Legs Syndrome in the Elderly. Age Ageing. May1994;23(3):200-03.
  8. View Abstract: Foster SL, Richardson SH, Failla ML. Elevated iron status increases bacterial invasion and survival and alters cytokine/chemokine mRNA expression in Caco-2 human intestinal cells. J Nutr. May2001;131(5):1452-8.
  9. View Abstract: Roth JL, Pugh LC. Side effects of alternative iron supplementation: a pilot study. Pa Nurse. Jun1998;53(6):16-8.
  10. View Abstract: Warner RR, Myers MC, Burns J. Analytical electron microscopy of chlorhexidine-induced tooth stain in humans: direct evidence for metal-induced stain. J Periodontal Res. Jul1993;28(4):255-65.