Iron is a mineral. Most of the iron in the body is found in the hemoglobin of red blood cells and in the myoglobin of muscle cells. Iron is needed for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide. It also has other important roles in the body. Iron can be found in foods like meat, fish, tofu, beans, spinach, cereal and other foods.

Iron is most commonly used for preventing and treating anemia caused by low iron levels. It is also used for anemia caused by abnormal heavy bleeding during menstrual periods (menorrhagia), pregnancy, or kidney problems.


Is a Form of:


Primary Functions:


Also Known As:

Atomic Number 26, Carbonate de Fer Anhydre, Citrate de Fer

How Does It Work?

Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to cells all over the body. Iron also plays a role in many important functions in the body.


  • Low levels of red blood cells in people with a long-term illness (anemia of chronic disease). Many diseases such as cancer, kidney problems, or HIV/AIDS can cause anemia. Taking iron along with other medications such as epoetin alfa can help build red blood cells and prevent or treat anemia in people with kidney problems or being treated for cancer with chemotherapy. Receiving iron by injection is more effective than taking iron by mouth.
  • Low levels of healthy red blood cells (anemia) due to iron deficiency. Taking iron by mouth or by injection is effective for treating and preventing anemia caused by too little iron in the body.
  • Low iron levels in women who are pregnant. Taking iron by mouth during pregnancy might reduce the risk of anemia caused by too little iron in the body.

Recommended Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For low levels of healthy red blood cells (anemia) due to iron deficiency: 50-100 mg of elemental iron three times daily for 3 months up to 6 months. Doses between 30-120 mg weekly have been used in adult women.
  • For low iron levels in women who are pregnant: 20-225 mg of elemental iron daily have been used. The recommended dose is 45 mg daily.
  • For a disorder that cause leg discomfort and an irresistible urge to move the legs (restless legs syndrome or RLS): Iron as ferrous sulfate has been taken at doses of 325 mg twice daily for 12 weeks.
  • For cough caused by drugs called ACE inhibitors: 256 mg of ferrous sulfate daily has been used.


  • For low levels of red blood cells in people with a long-term illness (anemia of chronic disease): A total dose of 2232 mg of iron given by injection delivered over 6 months to 1020 mg given by IV over 1 week have been used.
  • For heart failure: Iron as ferric carboxymaltose has been given by injection at doses of 200 mg weekly until iron levels are normal, followed by 200 mg by injection every month for 6 months.


  • For low levels of healthy red blood cells (anemia) due to iron deficiency: 4-6 mg/kg of iron per day divided into three doses for 3 months up to 6 months.
  • For preventing low iron levels: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends iron supplements for some children at risk of low iron levels.
    • For breast-fed infants: 1 mg/kg/day elemental iron from ages 4-6 months.
    • For Infants 6-12 months: 11 mg/day of iron from food or supplements.
    • For pre-term infants: 2 mg/kg/day of iron for the first year until the baby is switched to formula or getting enough iron from food sources.
    • For toddlers aged 1-3 years: 7 mg daily of iron f not getting enough iron from food sources.
  • For memory and thinking skills (cognitive function) in adolescents: 650 mg ferrous sulfate twice daily.

The adequate intake (AI) of iron for infants 6 months of age and less is 0.27 mg/day. For older infants and children, the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for iron are: Infants 7 to 12 months, 11 mg/day; children 1 to 3 years, 7 mg/day; 4 to 8 years, 10 mg/day; 9 to 13 years, 8 mg/day; boys 14 to 18 years, 11 mg/day; girls 14 to 18 years, 15 mg/day. For adults, the RDA for iron is 8 mg/day for men ages 19 and older, and women ages 51 and older. For women 19 to 50 years, the RDA is 18 mg/day. For pregnant women, the RDA is 27 mg/day. For breast-feeding women, the RDA is 10 mg/day for ages 14 to 18 years, and 9 mg/day for ages 19 to 50.

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL), the highest intake at which no unwanted side effects are expected, for iron are: infants and children birth to age 13, 40 mg/day; people age 14 and older (including pregnancy and breastfeeding), 45 mg/day. UL recommendations do not apply to people under medical supervision for iron deficiency.

Iron Supplements Frequently Asked Questions

What are the side effects of taking iron tablets?

It can cause side effects such as stomach upset and pain, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Taking iron supplements with food seems to reduce some of these side effects. However, food can also reduce how well the body can absorb iron.

What is the best iron supplement to take?

  • BestOverall: Slow Fe Iron Tablets.
  • BestLiquid: Floradix Iron + Herbs.
  • BestTablet: Feosol Complete with Bifera Iron
  • Bestwith Vitamin C: Pure Encapsulations Iron-C.
  • BestOrganic: New Chapter Iron Food Complex.
  • BestVegan: Floradix Floravital Iron + Herbs.
  • BestBudget: Nature Made Iron Tablets.

Is it safe to take iron supplements?

Most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take iron supplements, don't take too much as this could be harmful. Taking 17mg or less a day of iron supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. But continue taking a higher dose if advised to by your GP.

How can I boost my iron levels quickly?

The tips below can help you maximize your dietary iron intake:

  • Eat lean red meat: This is the best source of easily absorbed heme iron.
  • Eat chicken and fish: These are also good sources of heme iron.
  • Consume vitamin C-rich foods: Eat vitamin C-rich foods during meals to increase the absorption of non-heme iron.

Does Iron cause weight gain?

Weight gain related to iron therapy is a common problem in female patients with iron deficiency anemia. Patients under iron therapy should be counseled in terms of weight gain complication and benefits of diet and followed up serum ferritin and Hgb levels to prevent prolonged iron therapy.

Is it OK to take an iron supplement every day?

Most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take iron supplements, don't take too much as this could be harmful. Taking 17mg or less a day of iron supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. But continue taking a higher dose if advised to by your GP.

When should I take iron morning or night?

Iron is absorbed best on an empty stomach, but supplements can cause stomach upset. Taking supplements, in a divided dose morning and evening or every second day to start with, with a small amount of food may help you avoid this. Do not take milk or antacids at the same time as your iron supplements.

What are the 3 stages of iron deficiency?

There are many facets of iron deficiency which include: iron loss, iron intake, iron absorption, and physiological demand and if the iron is depleted at one of these sources it leads to IDA. There are three stages to iron deficiency: pre-latent, latent, and IDA.

How quickly do iron tablets work?

– It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks of taking regular iron supplements before your symptoms start to improve. – You may need to keep taking iron for several months to build up your iron reserves and keep your anemia from returning. Take your pills for as long as your doctor recommends, even if your symptoms have improved.

Does black poop mean iron tablets are working?

Iron pills may cause stomach problems, such as heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and cramps. Iron pills can change the colour of your stool to a greenish or grayish black. This is normal. But internal bleeding also can cause dark stool.

What happens when you are low on iron?

Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn't have enough of the mineral iron. This leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells. If your body doesn't have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won't get enough oxygen and be able to work effectively. This leads to a condition called anemia.

Do iron pills make you poop alot?

It helps your body absorb the iron. You might need to take iron supplements for a few months or more to get your levels back up to normal. But be warned: Iron supplements can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, and dark poop.

What fruit is high in iron?

Dried Fruit (Apricots)

Other fruit high in iron (%DV per cup): Peaches (36%), Prunes & Currants (26%), Raisins (24%), Pears (21%), Figs (17%), and Apples (7%).

Can you check your iron levels at home?

Self-diagnosing is not recommended. Luckily, most forms of iron deficiency can be treated fairly easily, usually through an iron-rich diet or iron supplements, if your doctor recommends them. Test your iron level from home with LetsGetChecked.

Are eggs high in iron?

Eggs, Red Meat, Liver, and Giblets Are Top Sources of Heme Iron. Lots of animal proteins have heme iron, including egg yolks (1 mg in two large egg yolks), red meat (2 to 3 mg per 3 ounces), poultry (2 mg per 3 ounces of dark-meat turkey), and pork (0.5 to 1 mg per 3 ounces).

Can low iron make you fat?

If you do not have enough iron, it can lead to fatigue and anemia. To burn fat, the body needs oxygen. If your iron levels are low, the body cannot oxidize fat as well as it should, thereby slowing your ability to lose weight. You can't burn fat without enough oxygen circulating through our blood stream.

Does Iron make you lose weight?

Iron plays a role in helping your body create energy from nutrients. Iron helps carry oxygen to all of the cells in your body, including your muscles. This, in turn, helps them burn fat.

Do iron pills make your hair grow?

Iron helps boost circulation and carries oxygen to your hair's roots, which helps the hair grow faster and longer. An iron deficiency can lead to hair loss.

Is 65 mg of iron a day too much?

At high doses, iron is toxic. For adults and children ages 14 and up, the upper limit -- the highest dose that can be taken safely -- is 45 mg a day. Children under age 14 should not take more than 40 mg a day.

Can I take iron at night?

Iron is absorbed best on an empty stomach, but supplements can cause stomach upset. Taking supplements, in a divided dose morning and evening or every second day to start with, with a small amount of food may help you avoid this. Do not take milk or antacids at the same time as your iron supplements.

How long does it take to get iron levels up?

It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks of taking regular iron supplements before your symptoms start to improve. – You may need to keep taking iron for several months to build up your iron reserves and keep your anemia from returning. Take your pills for as long as your doctor recommends, even if your symptoms have improved.

Can low iron cause dizziness?

Although there are many causes of headaches, frequent, recurrent headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency. Summary: Headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency. The lack of hemoglobin means not enough oxygen reaches the brain, causing its blood vessels to swell and create pressure.

Can low iron cause hair loss?

Hair loss isn't only caused by male-pattern baldness. It can also be caused by a lack of nutrients. When you don't have enough iron, your body can't produce the hemoglobin in your blood. With treatment, you can help reverse both the iron deficiency and the hair loss.

Clinical Studies