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Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common types of anemia, which is caused by a deficiency in iron that can occur due to a low consumption of foods with iron, loss of iron from the blood or due to a low absorption of this iron. metal by the organism.
In these cases, it is necessary to replace iron through food and, in some cases, iron supplementation according to the doctor's guidance. The iron supplements most used to fight anemia are ferrous sulfate, Noripurum, Hemo-Ferr and Neutrofer, which in addition to iron can contain folic acid and vitamin B12, which also help fight anemia.
Iron supplementation varies according to age and severity of anemia, and should be done according to medical advice.The use of iron supplements usually causes problems such as heartburn, nausea and constipation, but these can be alleviated with simple strategies.
How to take it and for how long
The recommended dose of iron supplements and duration of treatment will vary depending on age and severity of anemia, but typically the recommended dose of elemental iron is:
- Adults: 120 mg of iron;
- Children: 3 to 5 mg of iron/kg/day, not exceeding 60 mg/day;
- Babies from 6 months to 1 year: 1 mg of iron/kg/day;
- Pregnant women: 30-60 mg of iron + 400 mcg of folic acid;
- Breastfeeding women: 40 mg of iron.
Ideally, the iron supplement should be taken together with a citrus fruit, such as orange, pineapple or tangerine, to enhance iron absorption.
To cure iron deficiency anemia, it takes at least 3 months of iron supplementation, until the body's iron stores are replenished. Therefore, it is recommended to do a new blood test 3 months after starting treatment.
Learn what to do to increase iron absorption and treat anemia faster by watching the following video:
Types of iron supplements
Iron in the elemental form is an unstable metal that oxidizes easily and so it is usually found in the form of complexes such as ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate or iron hydroxide, for example, which make iron more stable. In addition, some supplements can still be found enclosed in liposomes, which are a kind of capsules formed by a lipid bilayer, which prevent it from reacting with other substances.
They all contain the same type of iron, however, they may have different bioavailability, meaning they are absorbed or interact with food differently.In addition, some complexes may have more side effects than others, especially at the gastrointestinal level.
Oral iron supplements are available in various doses, in tablets or in solution and depending on the dose, a prescription may be required to obtain them, however you should always speak to your doctor before deciding to take one. supplement with iron, in order to choose the most suitable for each situation.
The best-known supplement is ferrous sulfate, which should be taken on an empty stomach, because it interacts with some foods and can cause side effects such as nausea and heartburn, but there are others that can be taken with meals, such as the case of ferrous gluconate, in which iron is linked to two amino acids that prevent it from reacting with food and other substances, making it more bioavailable and with fewer side effects.
There are also supplements that contain iron associated with other substances such as folic acid and vitamin B12, which are also very important vitamins to fight anemia.
Possible side effects
Side effects vary depending on the type of iron complex used, the most common being:
- Heartburn and burning in the stomach;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Metallic taste in the mouth;
- Feeling full stomach;
- Blackened stools;
- Diarrhea or constipation.
Nausea and gastric discomfort may increase with the dose of the drug, and usually occur 30 to 60 minutes after taking the supplement, but may disappear after the first 3 days of treatment.
To reduce constipation caused by the medication, you should increase the consumption of fiber present in fruits and vegetables, do physical activity and, if possible, take the supplement with meals.