Iron is essential for transporting oxygen in the blood to other body parts so iron level deficiency can cause more severe problems. If you are iron deficient, you need to raise your iron levels. The best strategy is to change your diet. Eating iron-rich foods, taking iron-rich foods with vitamin C, and avoiding certain foods that interfere with calcium absorption can help you increase your iron levels.
If you are considering taking iron supplements, check with your doctor, as this is not always recommended. Also, consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, meaning you are not getting enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to different parts of the body. Your doctor will investigate possible causes and suggest treatments to increase your iron levels faster.
Anemia is one of the common diseases among many people, especially women. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red blood cells in the blood vessels to carry oxygen to different body parts.
Red blood cells may lack hemoglobin (the protein that gives blood cells their red color). One out of every ten women or teenage girls has anemia. Men and children are also at risk of anemia and deficiency in iron levels.
You may suffer from anemia if you sleep well but feel tired or lack energy daily. Anemia and lack of iron levels can cause mental and memory problems.
Symptoms of anemia are:
Those who have anemia have low oxygen in their blood and iron levels. As a result, the heart has to work harder to compensate for this deficiency and deliver oxygen to all body organs. Cardiac symptoms include arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), shortness of breath, and chest pain.
The complete blood count test determines the number of red and white blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin in the body. Also, this test shows other indicators such as average size, variation in size, volume, and hemoglobin concentration of red blood cells.
The blood cells of people with anemia or iron deficiency are smaller than usual. During this test, you may be asked questions about the symptoms of anemia, your medications, and your family history of the disease.
If the complete blood count test shows anemia, you must have other tests. For example, a test in which blood cells are checked for an abnormal shape or a hemoglobin electrophoresis test that detects the type of hemoglobin in the blood. The reticulocyte count test is one of these tests that shows how well the bone marrow produces new blood cells.
Suppose the bone marrow produces too few or too many blood cells or has an abnormal structure; a bone marrow test is needed. Bone marrow is a spongy tissue inside the bones.
Bone marrow contains stem cells, and its task is to transform these stem cells into blood cells. To take this test, a small amount of bone marrow is removed by needling. This will take about 30 minutes and may be painful.
If you have iron-deficiency anemia, taking iron orally or getting iron intravenously with vitamin C is often the fastest way to raise your iron levels.
Iron is essential for producing hemoglobin in red blood cells, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen to the organs and other tissues of the body.
Lack of iron levels disrupts this process, and lack of oxygen can cause fatigue and shortness of breath during physical activities.
The doctor first tries to identify the cause and severity of your anemia and lack of Iron levels and then recommends the appropriate treatment for you.
Depending on your blood tests (including hemoglobin level, red blood cell count, etc.), your doctor may recommend eating iron-rich and vitamin C-rich foods instead of an iron supplement. In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be required.
What are Iron-rich foods?
It is essential to have a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to avoid any iron deficiency anemia. Regarding iron deficiency anemia, look for foods rich in iron, vitamin C, B12, and folate.
An iron supplement is one of the strengthening drugs that provide the iron the body needs. This drug is available in different dosages and various pharmaceutical forms in pharmacies.
You can get this medicine without a prescription. Also, the use of this medicine is considered for each specific age group in a specific dose. This drug is available in oral and injectable form.
The choice between oral and intravenous (IV) iron depends on various factors, including the degree of anemia, costs, availability of different iron replacement products, and the patient’s ability to tolerate oral iron medications.
Most patients are treated with oral iron because this form is generally more effective, readily available, inexpensive, and safe.
However, gastrointestinal side effects are common (10% to 20% of patients report gastrointestinal side effects). Constipation is a common complaint, followed by nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea.
Low-dose iron supplementation (e.g., 30 mg/day) during pregnancy is as effective as higher-dose supplementation (e.g., 60 mg/day) and is less likely to cause side effects.
IV iron is suitable for patients who cannot tolerate the gastrointestinal side effects of oral iron. For example, older adults, pregnant women (who show digestive symptoms related to pregnancy), and people with disorders that aggravate oral iron’s side effects.
Many formulations of oral iron have almost the same effect but also have differences. Oral iron is well absorbed from the small intestine (duodenum and jejunum), so extended-release products are ineffective.
The most suitable form, liquid or tablet, contains ferrous (trivalent iron) salts.
The body can absorb the total amount of iron in iron products. Each iron supplement has a different percentage of elemental iron (absorbable iron).
The lower the amount of elemental iron, the fewer digestive complications will be.
In all kinds of iron supplements, all kinds of iron salts are used in them, which are generally categorized in the following cases:
Due to having the lowest amount of elemental iron (12%), this form of iron has fewer digestive side effects than other iron salts. However, in addition to this feature, the body must absorb iron much less due to the lower side effects. Like Century supplement
This form of iron contains 20% elemental iron. As a result, it causes digestive complications such as constipation in some people.
This iron salt has been the most common form of iron deficiency anemia treatment.
Joint market supplements containing this iron salt include Fefol, IroVit, and Foliron.
This form of iron contains 33 elemental iron. It has gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhea.
Its effects are usually revealed after a week of starting to use it.
Joint market supplements that contain this iron salt: Ferfolic, Feroglobin, Hematinic, and Feroral
This form of it contains 100 elemental iron. Although it is an iron salt, it is more similar to the micro-particles of elemental iron. It dissolves in the acidic environment of the stomach and creates hydrochloride salt.
This form of iron has few advantages over ferrous sulfate. However, it has relatively slow absorption and fewer gastrointestinal side effects, so it has a lower risk of toxicity for children.
Joint market supplements that contain this iron salt: ZiFemin, Acti Iron, and Life Style Iron
These two forms result from iron chelation with the amino acid “glycine.” Therefore, it allows iron to absorb this product more and has fewer digestive side effects than other iron salts.
Also, chelated iron has less interference with calcium absorption. In acidic pH, the stomach does not open; as a result, it reaches the small intestine (the iron absorption site) and is easily absorbed.
Based on the research results, patients’ compatibility with this form of iron is much better than with other iron salts.
Joint market supplements that contain this iron salt: Ferro Complete, Ferrodin, Easy Iron, Ferrofort
When choosing an iron supplement, note that iron, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 must be present because the effectiveness of iron increases; on the other hand, anemia is not always the result of iron deficiency.
Now that you know the types of iron salts, you can better choose which iron supplement is right for you.
If you have early symptoms of anemia, such as chronic fatigue and lack of energy, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Only take high doses of iron supplements with your doctor’s advice.
Avoiding foods and drinks that contain oxalic acid and interfere with iron absorption, some of these foods include:
Fast management and treatment of anemia with lifestyle changes!
While some types of anemia are short-term and mild, others can stay with you for the rest of your life. There are several ways to help control anemia, including:
Most of us are familiar with the mineral iron and its importance for our bodies. Sometimes, this substance is lacking in our bodies, and reducing iron levels in the body can have many side effects. Thus, we must take iron supplements to compensate for this deficiency and raise iron levels and eliminate these symptoms. There are different types of iron supplements available. Of course, while iron can be obtained from food, supplementation is the fastest and easiest solution for treating iron deficiency.
Dr. Majid Zohrabi started treating his patients in Dubai in 2022 and continues his activities in private medical centers in the UAE.