If you have
iron deficiency anemia, talk with your doctor about
taking iron supplement pills and
getting enough iron in your food each day. Iron-rich
foods include meats, vegetables, and whole grains such as iron-fortified cereals.
To get the most benefit from your iron
pills and the iron content of your food:
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Take vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or drink orange
juice with your pills.
Steam vegetables to help them retain their
Do not take your iron pills:
Within 2 hours of taking antacids or tetracycline (an
With certain foods,
chemicals, and nutrients. These include:
Tea, coffee, chocolate, and other food or
beverages high in caffeine.
Milk and other calcium-rich foods or
High-fiber foods, such as bran, whole grains, nuts,
and raw green vegetables.
In some people, iron supplements can cause stomach
discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and black stool. Iron is best
absorbed if taken on an empty stomach. But if you are having stomach problems,
you may need to take the pills with food. If the side effects of your iron
pills make you feel too sick, talk to your doctor. He or she may know of
another type of iron pill you can take.
If you think you have
anemia, do not take iron pills without talking with your doctor. If the iron
loss is from intestinal bleeding, taking iron pills may delay the diagnosis of
a serious problem such as a bleeding ulcer or colon cancer. If the anemia is
not due to iron deficiency, taking iron pills will not relieve the anemia and
may cause poisoning (iron toxicity) or iron overload (hemochromatosis).
Keep iron tablets out
of the reach of small children. Iron poisoning can be very dangerous.
If you are pregnant, your doctor will test your iron level
at your first prenatal visit, and he or she will give you prenatal vitamins
that include iron (30 mg a day). If you are anemic, your doctor will give you a
higher-dose pill to take.