supplement – Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common types of anemia, which is caused by an iron deficiency that can occur due to a low intake of foods with iron, loss of iron through the blood or due to a low absorption of this metal by the body.In these cases, it is necessary to replace the iron with supplementation and an iron-rich diet and only in the most serious cases is it necessary to make a blood transfusion.
How to take and for how long
The recommended dose of iron supplements and the duration of treatment vary according to the age and severity of the anemia, but usually the recommended dosage of elemental iron is:
- Adults: 120 mg iron;
- Children: 3 to 5 mg of iron / kg / day, not to exceed 60 mg / day;
- Infants 6 months to 1 year: 1 mg iron / kg / day;
- Pregnant women: 30-60 mg iron + 400 mcg folic acid;
- Breastfeeding women: 40 mg iron.
Ideally, the iron supplement should be taken with a citrus fruit, such as orange, pineapple or mandarin, to enhance the absorption of iron.
To cure iron deficiency anemia, at least 3 months of iron supplementation is needed until the body’s iron stores are replenished. Therefore, it is recommended to have a new blood test taken 3 months after the start of treatment.
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Types of Iron Supplements
Iron in the elemental form is an unstable metal that oxidizes easily and so it is generally found in the form of complexes such as ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate or iron hydroxide, for example, which make the iron more stable. In addition, some supplements can still be found encompassed in liposomes, which are a species of capsules formed by a lipid bilayer, which prevent it from reacting with other substances.
They all contain the same type of iron; however, they may have different bioavailability, which means that they are absorbed or interact with food differently. In addition, some complexes may have more side effects than others, especially at the gastrointestinal level.
Oral iron supplements are available in several doses, in tablets or in solution and depending on the dose, a prescription may be required to obtain them, however, you should always talk to your doctor before deciding to take an iron supplement. way to choose the most appropriate for each situation.
The best known supplement is ferrous sulfate, which must be taken fast because it interacts with some foods and can cause side effects such as nausea and heartburn, but there are others that can be taken together with meals, as is the case of ferrous gluconate , in which iron is linked to two amino acids that prevent it from reacting with food and other substances, making it more bioavailable and with fewer side effects.
There are also supplements that contain iron associated with other substances like folic acid and vitamin B12, which are also very important vitamins to combat anemia.
Possible side effects
Side effects vary depending on the type of iron complex used, the most common being:
- Heartburn and burning in the stomach;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Metallic taste in the mouth;
- Feeling of full stomach;
- Dark stools;
- Diarrhea or constipation.
Nausea and gastric discomfort may increase with the dose of the medicine, and usually occur within 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion of the supplement, but may disappear after the first 3 days of treatment.
To reduce constipation caused by the medication, you should increase the consumption of fiber present in fruits and vegetables, do physical activity and, if possible, take the supplement with meals. See What to do to fight against constipation .
The most commonly used iron supplements to combat anemia are ferrous sulfate, Noripurum, Hemo-Ferr and Neutrofer, which in addition to iron can contain folic acid and vitamin B12, which also help fight anemia.
Iron supplementation varies according to the age and severity of the anemia, and should be done according to medical advice. Usually the use of iron supplements causes problems like heartburn, nausea and constipation, but that can be softened with simple strategies.