Dear Don: I have anemia and I want to take iron for it. Do you think this is a good idea ? The doctor suggested that I do this as well. I am worry about it destroying other nutrients that I take and causing bad things down the road like cardiovascular issues. How long should I take it for? When should I take it? What kinds should I use?Should I take it with other supplements or not? Thanks a lot. PS. Any other nutrients I can take as well for it?
Answer: Yes, I think you should take an iron supplement if your physician said you have anemia and suggested you take an iron supplement.
I think the concern that has been voiced about iron supplements being possibly harmful is way overblown. Iron is important, and a deficiency can be a serious problem. There are two instances where iron supplements should not be taken. First, there are people with specific diseases, such as hemochromatosis, who should not take iron supplements. These people do not properly eliminate iron from the body. Your doctor would not prescribe iron if you had this disease. Second, it is best to not take large doses of iron if you are not deficient. If you are not iron deficient, the potential downside of high iron intake could outweigh any benefit.
In my opinion, if you are deficient, you should take it. If you are not deficient, you should not take more than 9 to 18 mg per day, which is usually what you find in a multivitamin supplement. And, unless you suffer from an iron-overload disease, such as hemochromatosis, I think you have little reason to avoid 9 to 18 mg iron per day.
I have written an article on this, and it is posted in the reference library section of The Willner Chemists web site, at this address.(http://www.willner.com/article.aspx?artid=156)
The form of iron that seem to be best tolerated is the glycinate form (Solgar Gentle Iron, DaVinci Labs Iron Glycinate, Metagenics Hemagenics).
How long should you take it? At the higher dose, until your doctor tells you to stop. At the usual dose (i.e. 9 to 18 mg daily), probably forever, as part of a good multivitamin multimineral. Take it after meals.