Iron supplements are one of the most common treatments for those who have iron-deficiency anaemia. The most commonly prescribed iron supplements are ferrous sulphate and ferrous gluconate. When ordering these supplements online, it might seem like the two are interchangeable, but they are in fact quite different.
Different iron supplements have different uses, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Iron supplements should always be prescribed by a doctor. But once you know which is the right one for you, you can save time by ordering your iron supplements online.
If you’re curious about the different types of iron supplements and how they work, read on to learn more about ferrous sulfate vs ferrous gluconate.
What is iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency is when the body does not have enough iron to function properly. Iron is necessary for all bodily functions, including producing red blood cells and oxygenating the brain.
It causes anaemia, a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells circulating throughout your system. In this case, iron supplements are recommended because they help the body to produce haemoglobin.
The type of medication and supplements you need will depend on the cause of your low red blood cell count. There are over 400 types of anaemia and they are divided into three groups:
- Blood loss
- Faulty blood cell production
- Destruction of red blood cells
Iron supplements are most commonly prescribed for anaemia caused by blood loss. The most common causes include:
- Gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding ulcers
- NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen causing ulcers
- Heavy menstruation
- Post-surgery or post-trauma
- During pregnancy
Anaemia during pregnancy is not technically the result of blood loss, but rather that blood requirements increase. As the foetus grows, the body needs to increase its blood supply to help serve the baby and the mother.
What is ferrous sulfate used for?
Ferrous sulfate is used to treat iron deficiency, where the body’s ferrous levels are too low, or there is no source of ferric iron. It comes in tablet form and should be taken with orange juice or other citrus fruit juices for best absorption.
Ferrous sulfate contains 20% elemental iron by weight. This offers high levels of iron per supplement but not as high as ferrous fumarate, which typically contains 33% elemental iron by weight. Ferrous sulfate is generally well-tolerated in most people, so it’s ideal for those who find ferrous fumarate to have unpleasant side effects.
What is ferrous gluconate used for?
Ferrous gluconate contains 12% elemental iron by weight. It is one of the mildest iron supplements available, making it the ideal choice for prevention. It’s also well-tolerated during pregnancy and nursing.
The daily dosage for treatment will always be higher than the daily dosage for prevention. Pay close attention to the dosage recommended by your doctor and return for a checkup as requested.
How to make the most of your iron supplements
If your doctor prescribes iron supplements, it’s essential to take them every day as prescribed to enjoy the full benefits. There are also a few additional steps to help increase absorption and limit the side effects.
- Avoid taking your iron supplements at the same time as caffeine or calcium, as these can limit absorption.
- Vitamin C helps boost absorption, so try taking your iron supplements with orange juice or a vitamin C supplement.
- If you miss a dose, leave it and then continue taking your supplements on your usual schedule. Don’t take another one to catch up.
- Avoid taking your iron supplements on an empty stomach. Try taking them with food if you suffer from nausea.
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