“When iron supplements are not available, you can boil iron bolts, then drink the liquid.”
It may sound like a joke, but the medical-doctor-professor was serious when he shared that to us in college.
He was advising female students on how to deal with anemia caused by menstruation. And he’s right, one can make use of iron bolts to make supplements of iron supplements!
Now, let’s get serous…
Are you having an anemia and you’re considering taking iron supplements?
Let me share to you what I’ve learned about iron, something I learned not from school, but out of my personal research. I’d like to put up a disclaimer though, that this is not intended to substitute medical advice from a physician, but just a guide for you to make informed decisions.
Sometimes, our medical doctors got too busy they no longer have time to make research like we do. So, let us fill that gap. Let me educate you about something that has an impact on your health.
Who Should Take Iron Supplements?
Menstruating women tend to lose iron regularly in blood flow and may need iron supplements. Also, children and adolescents often do not get enough iron in their food.
But wait, please do not substitute taking iron supplements by making a literal iron bolt decoction!
There are plenty of preparations you can buy, either online or offline. Also, you can choose from different branded products, and if you want to, you can generic ones for a much cheaper cost.
Some preparations you can consider buying are:
- Ferrous sulfate
- Ferrous fumarate
- Multivitamins plus iron
When taking iron supplements, couple it with drinking a glass of fruit juice rich in Vitamin C.
The reason for this is, to prevent the iron from oxidizing. Like for example, if Ferrous sulfate oxidize into Ferric sulfate, it can no longer be absorbed and used by the body to treat anemia.
And that applies for all iron supplements, whether Ferrous sulfate or Ferrous fumarate.
The Good About Iron
Such are the feared consequences of too little iron.
Basically, iron is helpful in maintaining a healthier circulatory system.
But aside from helping our blood system transport oxygen to our cells, it is also a component of certain proteins that are essential for respiratory and energy metabolism. Also, a component of enzymes involved in synthesis of collagen and some neurotransmitters.
Some experts say it is also needed for proper immune function.
If you think you’re not getting enough iron from your food, then you should consider taking in iron supplements. In most countries, they are sold in pharmacies even without the prescription of a physician. But it is better to check your country’s rule with regard to that.
The Bad About Iron
Like I said earlier, iron compounds have the potential to oxidize into forms that cannot be utilized by our body. And not only that, with the oxidized form, it can actually do you harm than good.
That is the reason why medical doctors advise their patients to fruit juices rich in Vitamin C, to help prevent oxidation of iron compounds into a harmful one.
Not familiar with the term “free radicals”? Click here for a related article.
Free radicals are the number one culprit for having cancer.
Since iron has the potential to facilitate the formation of free radicals, one should take caution in taking iron supplements. Except if you’re menstruating or in adolescent period, you should take iron sparingly.
Here are a few ways to avoid having excess iron in your body:
- Don’t take individual iron supplements. Look for “multivitamins + minerals” preparations with low or no amount of iron—certainly no more than 100 percent of the RDA.
- Cut down on animal meat. You absorb the heme in iron meat much more readily than non-heme iron in vegetables such as beans and cereals.
- Consume foods and beverages such as tea, red wine, and high-fiber bran and beans. These food items tend to block absorption of iron. This could be another reason why tea drinkers live longer, and red wine drinkers have less heart disease, and of course, the fiber you get from the tea helps frustrate cancer.
- Beware of iron-fortified cereals.
- If you are a man of any age or a woman past menopause, you might also help protect yourself by donating blood three times a year to get rid of excess iron in your body.
The Proper Use of Iron Supplements
Use it accordingly, and sparingly.
For women having anemia because of menstruation, iron supplementation may help. It can compensate for the loss of iron, and can help you get back in shape.
For young people especially those in adolescence, you may need iron supplementation for your rigorous physical activity like sports, and if you’re not fond of eating iron-rich vegetables.
But like any other substance, taking too much won’t do you good.
Your food already contain trace amounts of iron, if you get too much by adding via supplements, then that’s no longer good.
In wrapping up, iron basically is needed by our body.
If you’re in the group of people really needing iron supplements, then do it. Take iron supplements.
But, don’t forget to take with it, fruit juices rich in antioxidants, to aid in proper utilization of iron by our body.
Now, if your body is not really in dire need of this mineral, then why do it?
When taking multivitamins-minerals combinations, check with the label. Keep the iron level in your body at a minimum level.