If you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency, your doctor may have recommended that you start taking an iron supplement to get your levels within a healthy range. Of course, you will want to take iron pills in a way that maximizes absorption, because the most common symptoms of iron deficiency – including fatigue, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, headaches and brittle nails – can be uncomfortable to say the least. We asked experts for some tips to get the most out of each supplement.
When is the best time to take iron?
“It is best to take iron supplements on an empty stomach,” Minh Nghi, DO, an intern at the Texas Health Physicians Group, told POPSUGAR. “This will maximize absorption.”
Kara Dionisio, ND, BSc, MSc, Naturopathic Physician and Clinical Director of the Health Squad, added that taking iron at bedtime can help prevent you from noticing any stomach discomfort it can cause. Fortunately, “iron tolerance usually improves over a few weeks,” said Dr. Dionisio to POPSUGAR. She noted that new research suggests that taking iron every other day instead of consecutive days may increase absorption by 34 percent, so you should discuss your dosing schedule with your doctor.
Can I take iron with other drugs or vitamins?
To increase iron absorption, both experts recommend taking iron with vitamin C, such as orange juice. However, you should not take iron with milk or antacids because iron is best absorbed in an acidic environment, explained Dr. Nghi. You should also avoid taking iron with coffee, black tea, dairy products (including milk, yogurt and cheese) and other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, curcumin or fiber supplements, such as Dr. Dionisio said these will disrupt iron therapy.