Iron Tablets

Iron Tablets

Taking iron tablets becomes necessary when a person is diagnosed with anemia. Find out more about these iron supplements
Even though iron is present in a variety of vegetables and fruits, why is that some are advised to take iron tablets? Well, simply to overcome anemia, a serious medical problem that is caused by iron deficiency. People diagnosed with anemia do not have sufficient red blood cells in their blood. An important constituent of red blood cells is hemoglobin (a type of protein). Hemoglobin performs an important function of transporting oxygen to each and every part of the body. The production of red blood cells is dependent on dietary minerals like iron. Low iron means the cells of our body are deprived of adequate oxygen. This typically causes frequent bouts of fatigue and dizziness. With iron levels dipping still further the person may experience chest pain, headache and breathing problems. Poor diet and heavy rapid blood loss are some of the factors that trigger anemia.
Iron Tablets For Anemia
Generally, iron tablets containing ferrous form of iron are recommended for anemia. This is because, this type of iron is easily absorbed and is more effective in boosting iron levels. Usually, 325 mg strength tablet daily is prescribed for approximately 3 months. The tablet size as well as the duration time of iron therapy will vary according to the severity of anemia. One needs to consult a doctor regarding the iron dosage required to cure anemia.
Caution
It is observed that intestinal disorders also cause anemia. In such a scenario, if supplemental iron is not taken in the correct dosage, the underlying intestinal issues may aggravate. For instance, Crohn's disease patients also suffer from recurring bouts of anemia. In this condition, the intestines are unable to absorb adequate nutrients from ingested food. Crohn's disease causes inflammation of bowel wall, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and blood in stools. These symptoms, especially intestinal inflammation can worsen due to iron supplements. So, consult a doctor to know whether it would be suitable to have iron tablets to treat anemia resulting from medical conditions like ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal ulcers and diverticulitis.
Drug Interactions With Iron

If you are taking any of these medicines or supplements (given below), inform the doctor immediately before you start the iron dose. Your health care provider may advice to avoid using iron supplements or suggest to keep a gap of minimum 2 hours between your iron dose and prescribed medications. Following are the medications that can either reduce your ability to absorb iron or may become less effective due to presence of supplemental iron.
  • Antibiotics such as quinolones (ciprofloxacin) and tetracyclines (doxycycline, minocycline)
  • Medications such as levothyroxine (Levothroid, Eltroxin) that help to improve thyroid function
  • Calcium supplements
  • Bisphosphonate (used in the treatment of osteoporosis) that include neridronate, ibandronate,tiludronate and clodronate
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) medicines such as methyldopa,captopril and lisinopril
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (bile acid sequestrant) such as colestipol (Colestid) and cholestyramine (Questran)
  • Parkinson's medicines such aslevodopa
  • Antacids and acid blockers

Tips for Improving Iron Absorption
A better option to treat anemia arising from intestinal problems would be through dietary means. A diet that focuses more on eating foods that are good source of heme iron (a form of iron that can be easily absorbed) is advisable. In order to boost absorption of dietary iron, include vitamin C foods, seafood (fish), beef and lamb in your diet. One should also avoid taking beverages like green tea and iron supplements simultaneously as they reduce your ability to absorb iron. For instance, if you take your iron tablets along with milk, green tea or coffee, instead of water, it can restrict you from absorbing iron in sufficient amounts. Eggs also have certain iron binding compounds that can also lower absorption of iron.
When to Take Iron
Food decreases the amount of iron absorbed by the body, so it is recommended to take these iron supplements just an hour before the first meal of the day on an empty stomach. Otherwise, after having meals, wait for at least 2 hours and then take the tablet. One is expected to drink a glass of water while taking this medicine. Those who suffer from stomach upsets resulting from iron dosage are advised to take it along with meals.
Note: Keep in mind that rapid loss of blood due to internal bleeding or an injury has to be brought under control, otherwise the prescribed medication won't work.In order to facilitate absorption of iron, it is advised that the recommended iron dosage to be taken, should be split in 2-3 small doses. Iron pill taken in the form of tablets is the best way to improve anemia as tablets once ingested dissolve fast, in turn allowing the body to absorb iron quickly. Liquid iron supplements are usually prescribed for small children or those who find it difficult to swallow tablets.
Side Effects of Iron
There is no doubt that taking iron tablets is an effective remedy for anemia but these supplements are unfortunately not free from side effects. So, apart from producing the desired effects, this form of iron therapy may also trigger some unwanted side effects. With the introduction of iron pills for anemia in the diet, the bowel function can turn haywire. Patients may feel constipated or they may suffer from diarrhea. Abnormal stool color, which happens to be black or green is also reported in patients taking iron supplements. Upset stomach that is typically marked by indigestion, abdominal pain and nausea also comes in the list of iron pills side effects.
Slow Release Iron Tablets
Slow release medication are those that are absorbed by the body at a very slow rate. This slow absorption ensures that the effect of the drug lasts for a considerable amount of time. Normally, the action of drugs doesn't last for more than 6 hours. However, the effect of slow release drugs lasts for at least 12 hours and can go up to 24 hours. The doctor may recommend it so that the impact of the active ingredients of the iron supplement lasts for a longer duration.
Iron Tablets and Pregnancy
Getting diagnosed with low hemoglobin levels during pregnancy is common. Due to the physical changes caused by the developing fetus during pregnancy, the demand for iron increases, especially in the second half of pregnancy. Although, the quantity of blood in the second and third trimester increases dramatically, there is no significant increase in hemoglobin. So, in order to improve hemoglobin levels, taking iron tablets during pregnancy as instructed by the doctor is recommended. Iron pills during pregnancy is certainly helpful to get rid of anemia.
In case you don't like popping these iron supplements and want to prevent anemia, it is important to follow a well-balanced diet that provides adequate amount of dietary iron to the body. Including iron rich foods like dark green vegetables in the diet can go a long way in preventing anemia.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.