How to Shop Iron Supplements

Shopping Iron in a health foods store differs from your traditional pharmacy script. Learn about ways to recognize Iron types, how doses equate, and popular brands that we carry.

Over the past two years, I have had many customers inquire about Iron supplementation. Most often, shoppers either misinterpret, or are confused on how to shop iron supplements due to dosing factors.

The reason is because Iron amounts differ between:

  • Iron Salts
  • Chelates (Bis-Glycinate)
  • Heme Iron (Plant-Based) 

Iron sources (mg-g-ml) can be measured and listed in two ways:

Total Iron: The total amount of Iron, Inactive and Active
Elemental Iron: The total active Iron found in a Formula 

    & most often, you are prescribed:

    Iron Type (i.e. Ferrous Fumurate)
    Total Dose (i.e. 365mg)

       

      The solution: You can reference our chart below to determine which supplement is best fitted for you, and understand how many capsules daily you would require to hit the Canadian Iron Deficiency Protocol of 100mg of elemental iron daily, or you desired amount.

       

      Types of Iron, Total Dose, Elemental Doses

       FERROUS SALTS Brand Dose Elemental Iron 100mg 
      Ferrous Gluconate Salus: Floradix 10ml 10mg 100ml
      Ferrous Fumurate

      Iron Factors: Natural Factors

      300mg 35mg 3 cap
      Ferrous Fumurate

      Euro-Fer

      300mg 100mg 1 cap
      FERRIC SALTS

      Brand

      Dose Elemental Iron 100mg
      Ferric Pyrophosphate Lorna Vanderhaeghe: IRONSmart 20mg 15mg 6 cap
      Ferric Pyrophosphate AOR: Ortho Iron 358mg 30mg 3 cap

      CHELATE

      BIS-GLYCINATE

      Brand Dose Elemental Iron 100mg
      Iron Bisglycinate CanPrev: Iron  150mg 20mg 5 cap
      Iron Bisglycinate Sisu Gentle Iron 25mg 25mg 4 cap
      Iron Bisglycinate Platinum Naturals: Easy Iron  100mg 18mg 5 cap
      CARBONYL IRON  Brand Dose Elemental Iron 100mg
      Carbonyl Iron Douglas Laboratories: Ferro-C 500mg 27mg 4 cap
      HEME IRON Brand Dose Elemental Iron 100mg
      Heme Iron Mega Food: Blood Builder 625mg 26mg 4 cap
      Heme Iron Vitamin Code: Raw Blood 22mg 5 cap

      The table lists elemental iron content for a selection of popular oral formulations at a standard therpeutic dose of 100mg of elemental Iron Per day. Not meant to treat or diagnose. (Adapted by Kipos Nutrimart, 2022). 

       

      Maximizing Iron Absorption

      Vitamin C: Some literature suggests taking 200mg of Vitamin for every 30mg Iron. 

      Avoid Calcium: One to two hours before taking Iron (dairy, antacids, or other supplements).

      Avoid Coffee and Black Tea: For one to two hours after taking Iron.

      Avoid Enteric-Coated Supplemenets: Some research suggests Enteric coating can decreases GI side-effects but also interferes with absorption capabilties. 

       

      What is Iron Deficiency?

      Iron defiency is a concern affecting both men and women. 

      It occurs when Iron availability is insufficient to meet the body's needs, and can be present with or without anaemia.

      Checking your Iron is important for the quality of your wellbeing, because low levels can are associated emotional and physical impacts.

       

      Checking your Iron Status

      1. Consult: A requisistion signed by your primary or walk-in doctor is required for getting your Iron measured.
      2. Lab Work: To measure Iron, you are tested for Ferritin. Ferritin is a protein found within the body that stores Iron, and measured as an indicator of your Iron status.
      3. Interpret: Work alongside a team of support, and qualified health care professionals for an individualized action plan. 

        It is important to take action if you are concerned about being Iron deficient, as a variety of symptoms overlap with:

        Mood: Depression, and Anxiety
        Function: Hypothyroidism, and Pregnancy

          Symptoms of Low Iron

          • Fatigue 
          • Pale Skin
          • Weakness
          • Loss of Appetite
          • Cold Hands & Feet 
          • Brittle Nails & Finger Nails 
          • General loss of Energy
          • Focus, Decision Making, Cognition

          Low Iron Risk Factors

          • Female 
          • Vegetarian
          • Malnutrition
          • Plant-Based Diets 
          • Gene & Physiological 
          • Gastrointestinal Disease

          Causes of Iron Defciency

            Blood Loss

            • Menstration: Blood loss through menstration can result in Iron Deficiency Anemia due to a variety of Blood Loss factors such as a heavy flow, and underlying reproductive & hormonal issues that influence the frequency and duration of your period.
            • Internal bleeding: This includes wounds, medications that affect clotting factors, or disrupt the stomach lining (over-the-counter medications like Aspirin), and stomach conditions such as cancers & hernias. 

            Absorbency 

            Iron is abosrbed in the small intestine -  impacts that can decrease iron absorption:

            • Surgical removal
            • Intestinal obstruction
            • Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chrons Disease, Peptic Ulcers & Hernias

            Pregnancy

            • A womens body requires more blood to support and sustain the growth of an expecting baby (growing fetus). According to the Canadian Recommended Daily Intake (RDA) a women should increase their intake of Iron to 18mg when pregnant under the discretion of their healthcare professional.   

            Dietary / Nutrition

            • Malnutrition: This can be caused due to global factors such as poverty, food supply, and lack of healthcare resources. 
            • Dietary: High concentrations of Iron is found in meats and organs. Plant-based diets and Vegetarians are at increased risk of Iron Deficiency Anemia.

            Inflammation

            • Chronic inflammation: Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), Chronic Renal Disease (CRD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and Obesity (Adipose tissue inflammation) were recorded to impact Iron.
            • High hepcidin levels: can restrict the uptake of dietary iron and, over time, lead to iron deficiency with reduced availability of iron for essential cellular function. 

             

            Take off

            Shopping for your Iron supplement should be safe, and effortless. Understanding Iron Types & Elemental doses will make an impact on the effect it has on your body. 

            It is important to recognize that you can be Iron deficient without being anemic. Working alongside a support team, and health care professional will help navigate your individualized action plan so you can perform and feel your best.

             

            References: 
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878890/

            https://www.ontariomidwives.ca/sites/default/files/Iron%20chart%20final%20no%20bleed.pdf

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