Some types of iron supplements may increase the likelihood of constipation, as well as gas and bloating. Although it's unclear why some people become constipated due to iron supplementation, you can reduce your risk by taking other forms of iron that are less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects. Discuss any concerns you about about supplementation with your physician.
Iron sulfate, also called ferrous sulfate, is the most commonly prescribed iron supplement for women with a deficiency. The typical recommended dose is 325 milligrams, taken two or three times a day. Unfortunately, ferrous sulfate is the form of iron most often associated with constipation. If you are experiencing this problem, it can help to lower your total daily dose or switch to an alternative iron supplement.
Ferrous gluconate, a different iron salt, contains a lower concentration of iron per milligram and is less likely to cause constipation. However, it only contains about 57 percent the amount of iron in a ferrous sulfate supplement. Its lower potency means that you will likely have to take the supplement for a longer period of time. Liquid versions are also available. Lowering your total dose of iron gradually should help you find a dose that does not cause you constipation.
Iron polysaccharide is a product engineered to cause less constipation and nausea. It is available under various brand names, such as Niferex, Niferex Elixir, Ezfe, Ferrex-150, Nu-Iron 150 and Poly Iron. You should take it with vitamin C to boost iron absorption. Another alternative is slow-release iron. However, these supplements, while less constipating, may not be absorbed properly.
Iron supplements are readily available without a prescription. They are typically recommended for iron deficiency associated with anemia or blood loss from conditions such heavy menstruation. Pregnancy also increases your need for iron. If you do not have an iron deficiency, you may not need extra supplementation, so consult with your health care provider to determine whether or not iron supplementation is necessary.
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