Finding the best iron supplement for you can be tough when there is so much choice in the market. Here, we try to address any questions you may have and advise on the best such supplements available.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anemia and it’s usually treated with iron supplements, but this is not the only reason.
You may find yourself more tired than you would like, lacking energy, or you could be training for a sports event. Or if your doctor advises you to take iron supplements following a check-up or at specific times in your life (such as during pregnancy).
We have looked into what makes the best iron supplements and how to select these, as well as some frequently asked questions to take the mystery out of choosing.
Of all iron supplements on the market, we have selected these based on a few criteria:
We looked at relevant supplements for men and women separately, as their daily requirements are different. Additionally, we have separated supplements for vegetarian and pregnant women.
These are two categories which demand special attention due to – for vegetarians – the difficulty of absorption against a larger requirement, and – for pregnant women – the increased dosage needed.
This is not an exhaustive list and you should check with your doctor as well as look into our recommendations on how to select the best iron supplement.
This supplement is gentle on the stomach and easy to take. Moreover, there are no animal products so you can take this if you are vegan or vegetarian.
It is ferrous fumarate, which has the highest amount of elemental iron, so this will be very effective. It is also really easy to use as you only need one tablet daily.
As far as price is concerned, you can get these in packs of 4 which are really good value at $12.50 for 60 tablets on Amazon, which also makes it a good choice.
Another daily tablet supplement, this one also had added vitamins which help absorption of iron such as vitamin C, folate, vitamin B12 and also beetroot.
This makes it a more holistic way to address red blood cell levels than just by taking iron alone. It is also organic and certified gluten free and vegan friendly.
The Blood Builder is definitely gentler on your stomach than iron-only pills would be and has the benefit of the added elements in its content.
This supplement is based on ferrous sulphate and is gluten free. It is extremely good value at $16.99 for a bottle of 365 tablets, and at one tablet a day this will last you a whole year. So it’s easy to take and the price is purse-friendly.
Several customer reviews mention how easy these tablets are to swallow, which is also a positive.
Another ferrous sulphate iron supplement, these tablets have the same amount of elemental iron as the Nature Made Iron supplement, 65mg per tablet. There are no dairy or gluten contents, so this is also a product that can be taken regardless of your dietary requirements.
It is a very small pill so easy to swallow and should make it easy to keep taking. However, you only get 240 tablets per bottle, so it’s worth considering this when comparing for example, to the Nature Made Iron. It does cost less at $9.57 but you can shop around for any of these supplements to find the best price.
As a liquid supplement, this will suit those who have a hard time swallowing pills. It is vegetarian and also has a number of added contents beyond iron because of the formula it’s based on.
The liquid formula is made up of juice from pears, grapes, blackcurrant, orange, blackberry, cherry and red beet. Therefore, the supplement contains naturally present vitamins B and C which are found in these fruit.
At 10 ml serving size, you will get 50 servings per bottle and the elemental iron in this supplement is based on ferrous gluconate, so a different type from the two encountered in tablets.
One of the side-effects of taking iron supplements can be constipation, so this formulation is meant to prevent this.
Our final selection is a supplement in capsule format, again with the aim of preventing the side-effect of constipation. You will get 25 mg of iron sulphate per capsule, and can take 2 capsules daily if required.
This a slow-release product with protein content, so suits those who need slow release rather than the other supplements which give you a quick release of iron.
Active Iron also offer no gluten and no dairy as part of their formulation so this should suit all dietary requirements. A number of reviews specifically from active athletes highlight that it is useful as a supplement while training for races, which also gives it an edge.
In order to select the best iron supplements for women, we have considered the fact that many iron supplements in general will cater to women, simply because of the enhanced requirement for it in our diets (more so than men’s, as explained in the section “How to Select the Right Supplement for You”.
However, bear in mind that you are very likely to get good results with the supplements in the Men’s category as well, depending of course on advice from your doctor too.
The Iron Gummies are a supplement with a difference! Easy to take as well as better tasting because you are effectively chewing the equivalent of candy. They won’t make you feel sick, will avoid nausea and constipation as well.
This is a good supplement for active women as well as vegetarian and vegan due to its non animal product formulation.
Moreover, with BeautyFit BeautyIron you also get additional vitamins like vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin B3, B6, B12 and B5. These should help iron absorption but they are also known to boost energy levels, so if that is your concern then you will be well covered by taking this supplement.
The final positive feature of this supplement is that it doesn’t require you to take it with a meal or at any specific time of day, it’s fine to take day or night.
Frunutta iron supplement is a soluble tablet which dissolves under the tongue. This is very handy and easy to take, it also has a nice taste to go with it. Assuming you take one per day, you can get 90 tablets for $15.99 which is also an attractive price.
This supplement is gluten-free too. The good thing about it is that it will be quite strong in elemental iron as well, as it’s iron from ferrous fumarate.
Its good taste is provided by the use of stevia leaf extract, which is a natural sweetener, so you don’t have to worry about any additional unwanted products.
However, it does contain lactose, so it will not be suitable for vegans. The only consideration with this supplement is that, as you are keeping the tablet in your mouth for longer as it dissolves, you may be concerned about the potential for it to stain your teeth.
Customer reviews suggest it does not, however, it is something to keep in mind.
Women who follow a vegetarian diet may find iron absorption a bit more of a challenge, so the following two supplements could be better for them.
As a liquid formula, this iron supplement will be easy to absorb and also allows for smaller doses in order to avoid potential stomach issues. It is vegan so suitable for any dietary requirements, and there is no added flavor. This supplement should avoid making you constipated. At $17.99 currently, this would be great value for money as you get 140 servings per bottle.
However, be aware that one serving of this supplement will only give you 7 mg of iron from ferrous sulphate, so it is a lot less dosage than the other supplements we have looked at here. This means you will be getting less iron, which can be fine if you are also getting enough from your diet, but it is something to check with your doctor as you may need more than one serving daily.
These capsules contain 22 mg of iron so they are relatively strong and should cover your daily requirements. Additionally, they contain vitamins C, B12 and folate which all support iron absorption and are also beneficial vitamins for women.
You have the guarantee of it being a supplement from whole food and suitable for vegetarians as well.
During pregnancy, your iron requirements are higher and therefore we need to focus on stronger supplements during this period.
This liquid supplement is specifically formulated for pregnant women and nursing mothers, with mineral-rich herbs high in natural iron.
The supplement is 100% made from natural sources, which should put you at ease if you are concerned about preservatives and chemicals. You can use it as is or dilute it in water too, giving you more choice.
The Rainbow Light tablets are vegan and gluten-free, plant-based supplements. This is ideal for pregnant women as there are no chemicals and preservatives involved in the formula.
Furthermore, the tablets are gentle on your stomach and contain prune, fig and raising powders to support your digestive system and avoid constipation as a side-effect. These tablets are recommended by doctors specifically for pregnant women.
Making a choice of supplement depends on a few personal factors, so we advise asking yourself a few easy questions:
You can take capsules, tablets, or even liquid iron supplements. Your doctor will advise what dose you need first, and based on that, you can choose depending on preference.
You may find it hard to swallow pills for example, or it might be that your lifestyle requires a slow-release supplement. Some people find that liquid supplements stain their teeth.
Based on your experience or the information you have, consider also asking your doctor (they may advise you from the start).
Please keep in mind that too much iron can negatively affect your liver, which can lead to health problems. So you don’t want to take too much and should definitely consult with your doctor first. They can determine this from your blood tests.
As a guideline, a male adult should take c. 8 mg and a female adult 18 mg of iron per day. For pregnant women, the recommended amount is 27 mg of iron on a daily basis.
These supplements are sold under different names: ferrous sulphate, ferrous fumarate and ferrous gluconate. All three are absorbed well by the body, but the actual level of elemental iron in them is different and you may find the labels confusing. The highest amount of iron is found in ferrous fumarate, but it can prove too strong a dose. Therefore, please speak to your doctor about the best dose from this point of view as well, and even suggest which supplement you are looking at to see what they say. Also, you can discuss this with your pharmacist and they will be able to offer adve.
There are two types of dietary iron – haeme iron and non-haeme iron. The first one is found in red meat and other animal products, and is most easily absorbed by the human body. Non-haeme iron appears in plants as well as in meat, but it is more difficult to absorb and it can be inhibited by caffeine, or some plant compounds like phytates. You can support absorption of non-haeme iron with vitamin C.
Please do check with your doctor before starting to take a supplement. If you have severe iron deficiency, a supplement alone may not actually help with your symptoms. If you have severe headaches and suffer from fatigue, check this with your doctor first. They could tell you if some other supplements should be taken in parallel to iron, to enhance its absorption, and also if you need to make changes to your diet.
Some supplements come with side effects which are completely normal, such as constipation, dark stools, a strange taste in your mouth or an upset stomach. If these are severe or unpleasant you can switch to a different iron formulation as this will have a different iron oxidation process. Again, something to discuss with your doctor.
You may need additional iron if you are frequently fatigued and have severe headaches. If you find this is often the case, consult with your doctor and they may prescribe a blood test which will show if you need iron. You may also need iron if you are training hard for a sports event.
Your doctor will check your iron absorption and advise if you need a supplement during pregnancy. Your body goes through a lot of changes during this time and there are additional energy pressures on you, so boosting your iron levels will be beneficial to avoid energy loss.
This is a matter of taste and choice. If you struggle to ingest pills or have digestive problems, liquid supplements are easier on your stomach. However, pills and capsules can be more concentrated and are less hassle to transport with you if you travel for example.
Yes, but this really depends on how deficient you are. While you can eat iron-rich foods, it is hard to determine how much additional iron you are putting in your diet by doing this unless you measure very carefully. Also, if you have a serious lack of iron, your doctor will advise you take supplements to ensure you are targeting the amount you require.