What’s the Best Iron Supplement for Combating Iron Deficiency Anaemia?
Did you know that one in four women in the United Kingdom between the ages of 14 and 42 have anaemia, and one in six men.
Anaemia is caused by a shortage of red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. And whilst there are particular medical conditions which can cause it, the most common reason is simple nutritional deficiency.
This can mean folate, B12, or vitamin A but the likeliest cause is lack of iron. The modern British diet is far lower in iron even than it was 30 years ago (ref) In fact, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world.
Globally, it is thought some 2 billion people suffer from iron deficiency, many of these in Western countries. It is common in infants, menstruating and pregnant women, and those receiving kidney dialysis.
Fortunately, iron supplements can help to alleviate these symptoms by increasing the body's iron levels. But with so many iron supplements on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
In this article, we will explore the best iron supplements for anaemia, including a detailed analysis of Nano Iron, which is considered by many to be the most effective iron supplement available today.
Importance of Iron in Treating Anaemia
In anaemia, there is a deficiency of hemoglobin or red blood cells, leading to reduced oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood. Iron supplementation helps to increase the body's iron stores, leading to an improvement in hemoglobin synthesis and subsequently increasing the number of red blood cells.
This process is mediated by the body's regulation of iron homeostasis, which involves the absorption, utilization, and storage of iron. Iron is absorbed primarily in the duodenum and upper jejunum of the small intestine, where it is transported into the bloodstream and bound to transferrin, a plasma protein that transports iron to tissues and organs.
Iron is then utilized by erythroid precursors in the bone marrow for hemoglobin synthesis. In the case of iron deficiency, the body mobilizes iron from storage sites such as the liver and spleen to support erythropoiesis. Iron supplementation can further increase iron availability and facilitate hemoglobin synthesis, leading to an improvement in anaemia.
What Supplements are Commonly Prescribed for Iron Deficiency Anaemia?
Iron supplements are available in various forms, each with its unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. Some of the most commonly used iron supplements for the treatment of anaemia include:
Ferrous sulfate: This is the most commonly prescribed and affordable iron supplement. It is readily available in tablet form and is well absorbed by the body. However, it can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.
Ferrous gluconate: This form of iron is less commonly used than ferrous sulfate but is well tolerated and has a lower risk of gastrointestinal side effects. It is often used in individuals who experience adverse effects with ferrous sulfate.
Ferrous fumarate: This form of iron has a higher elemental iron content than ferrous sulfate and ferrous gluconate, making it a more potent iron supplement. However, it is associated with a higher risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
Carbonyl iron: This form of iron is unique in that it is a pure form of iron and is not associated with gastrointestinal side effects. It is, therefore, a suitable alternative for individuals who cannot tolerate other forms of iron supplements. However, it is less commonly prescribed due to its relatively high cost.
Nano iron: This is a newer form of iron supplement that uses nanotechnology to improve iron absorption and efficacy. Nano iron has a significantly smaller particle size than traditional iron supplements, allowing for improved bioavailability and less risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Additionally, nano iron has been shown to be effective in improving iron status in individuals with anaemia, making it a promising option for treating anaemia.
Doctors prescribe these forms because they are cheap to produce and can be absorbed by the body. Unfortunately, ingesting iron in these forms also causes unpleasant side effects, especially when taken at higher doses.
Common Side-Effects of Conventional Iron Supplements for Anaemia
Almost all common iron supplements cause significant gastrointestinal side effects such as
- nausea or vomiting,
- Abdominal pain or heartburn.
- loss of appetite.
- black stools.
- black stained teeth (from the liquid)
- Impacted microbiome causing pain, discomfort in the gut and even bad breath.
Clearly, this is a high price to pay from someone seeking to heal from anaemia. Some scientists wonder if these common supplements are actually harmful, pointing to evidence of too much ‘available’ iron in the colon (from ingesting supplements) as a risk factor for inflammatory signalling and colorectal carcinogenesis* (which means “risk of inflammation in the gut as well as possible cause of cancer” in more simple terms.
Nano Iron: The Best Supplement for Anaemia
Nano Iron offers a radical solution to the problem of supplementing iron for health conditions.
Nano particles are incredibly small meaning they can easily move throughout the body, traverse biological barriers and enter the systemic circulation where they can readily penetrate cells.
Their tiny size also means they offer both improved bioavailability, plus zero side effects.
The Health Factory’s Nano Iron supplement is the first supplement of its kind on the market and the reviews, from both customers and clinical professionals are unanimously positive. This tasteless liquid offers fantastic iron absorption without gastrointestinal distress, making it the most advanced solution to anaemia.
Nano Iron: Why it's the Best Supplement for Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Nano iron offers several advantages over traditional iron supplements. Here are some of the benefits of nano iron and why it's considered the best iron supplement:
The Best Iron Due to Improved Bioavailability
Nano iron has a significantly smaller particle size than traditional iron supplements, which allows for improved absorption and utilization by the body. This means that less iron is needed to achieve the same effect, reducing the risk of side effects and making nano iron more effective.
The Best Iron Due to Causing No Gastrointestinal Side Effects
Traditional iron supplements can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, and nausea due to their larger particle size and lower bioavailability. Nano iron has a significantly smaller particle size, which reduces the risk of these side effects.
The Best Iron Due to Being Faster Acting
Due to its improved bioavailability, nano iron is more rapidly absorbed by the body than traditional iron supplements, leading to faster relief of anaemia symptoms.
The Best Iron Due to Higher Elemental Iron Content
Nano iron has a higher elemental iron content than traditional iron supplements, which means that a smaller dose is needed to achieve the same effect, reducing the risk of side effects.
The Best Iron Due to Being More Sustainable
Nano iron is more environmentally sustainable than traditional iron supplements as it requires less iron to achieve the same effect, reducing the need for mining and refining iron.
How to Take Nano Iron for the Best Results
Follow the Recommended Dosage for your specific iron deficiency: It is essential to follow the recommended dosage on the product label or as advised by a healthcare professional. The dosage may vary depending on individual iron status and other health factors, so it is important to get proper testing before taking any iron supplement.
Take on an Empty Stomach: Taking nano iron on an empty stomach enhances its absorption and reduces the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. It is recommended to take nano iron at least two hours after a meal or one hour before a meal.
Hold in the Mouth: Holding nano iron in the mouth for at least 30 seconds before swallowing can increase absorption by allowing the iron to be absorbed through the buccal mucosa in the mouth.
Swallow Slowly: Swallowing nano iron slowly can also increase absorption by allowing more time for the iron to dissolve and be absorbed.
Avoid Eating or Drinking for 30 Minutes: After taking nano iron, it is best to wait at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything other than water. This can help to ensure that the iron is fully absorbed by the body.
Why testing is vital when you're supplementing for iron deficiency anaemia
Proper testing is vital when supplementing for iron deficiency anaemia for several reasons.
Firstly, it is important to confirm that anaemia is indeed due to iron deficiency rather than another underlying condition. Iron deficiency anaemia can have many causes, including poor diet, blood loss, malabsorption disorders, and chronic illnesses. Identifying the underlying cause of anaemia can help to guide treatment and prevent the development of further complications.
Secondly, the majority of iron supplements can have side effects, especially when taken in excess. These side effects can include gastrointestinal disturbances, constipation, and nausea. Taking iron supplements unnecessarily or at inappropriate dosages can cause iron toxicity, which can lead to serious health consequences. Proper testing can help to identify the appropriate dosage of iron supplements needed to treat anaemia without causing harm.
Thirdly, iron supplements can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients, including zinc, calcium, and copper. Testing for deficiencies in these nutrients can help to guide treatment and ensure that they are adequately replenished while treating iron deficiency anaemia.
Finally, testing can help to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and identify any complications that may arise. Regular monitoring can ensure that the iron supplements are working as intended and that any side effects or complications are identified and addressed promptly.
World Health Organization. Worldwide prevalence of anaemia 1993-2005. WHO Global Database on Anaemia. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO Press; 2008. Available from: https://www.who.int/vmnis/publications/anaemia_prevalence/en/
Pavord S, Myers B, Robinson S, Allard S, Strong J, Oppenheimer C. UK guidelines on the management of iron deficiency in pregnancy. Br J Haematol. 2012;156(5):588-600.
Camaschella C. Iron-deficiency anemia. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(19):1832-1843.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Iron-deficiency anemia. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/iron-deficiency-anemia
Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2015.
Kassebaum NJ, Jasrasaria R, Naghavi M, et al. A systematic analysis of global anemia burden from 1990 to 2010. Blood. 2014;123(5):615-624.
Goddard AF, James MW, McIntyre AS, Scott BB. Guidelines for the management of iron deficiency anaemia. Gut. 2011;60(10):1309-1316.
Camaschella C. New insights into iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia. Blood Rev. 2017;31(4):225-233.