Iron is an integral mineral for our health. It helps the transference of energy from other nutrients and plays a role in distributing oxygen throughout the body. It’s available in a variety of foods, including red meat, legumes, and dark, leafy greens like spinach. Most folks who follow a well-balanced diet will get all the iron they need from food. However, some, including those with iron deficiency anemia, may need to boost their iron intake with supplements.
It’s wise to consult a medical professional before turning to iron supplements. The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has established a daily upper limit of 45 milligrams of iron through supplementation. Exceeding that amount, particularly without medical supervision, could come with negative side effects. If you do opt to turn to iron supplements, it’s important to distinguish between the many options available on the market.
Best Iron Supplements
- Best Iron Supplement: Vitron-C High Potency Iron
- Best Value Iron Supplement: Nature’s Bounty Iron
- Most Unique Formula Iron Supplement: Garden of Life Iron Complex
- Best Iron Supplement Powder: BulkSupplements Ferrous Gluconate
Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary.
Best Iron Supplement
Each single-serving tablet of Vitron-C High Potency Iron contains 125 milligrams of Vitamin C paired with 65 milligrams of iron. The manufacturer claims that the carbonyl iron used in this formulation is more slowly absorbed, making it less harsh on the stomach. The tablets are gluten-free and vegan certified to be compatible with those who follow a vegan diet. Compared to many competitive iron supplements with additional nutrients on the market, this is a fairly competitively priced item.
With a strong dose of Vitamin C as well as iron, these iron tablets utilize Vitamin C to help increase iron absorption. They are designed to increase iron without causing stomach troubles.
Who Should Buy Vitron-C High Potency Iron
- Those who value the added Vitamin C.
- Anyone who has a more sensitive stomach.
- People who follow vegan diets.
- Folks working with a tighter budget.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Vitron-C High Potency Iron
- Those who don’t want to deal with a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste.
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Best Value Iron Supplement
Each single-tablet serving of Nature’s Bounty Iron contains 65 milligrams of iron and is very cost-friendly on a per-serving basis. This product is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and doesn’t push too many over-the-top claims in their marketing. They keep it simple saying that iron might play a key role in red blood cell production. The Journal of Research in Medical Sciences can back up that claim. (1)
Those looking for a very straightforward source of iron may check out Nature’s Bounty offering. Containing nothing but 65mg of iron per tablet, this is a solid source of iron at a very competitive price.
Who Should Buy Nature’s Bounty Iron
- Anyone who needs their supplements to be gluten-free.
- Those who appreciate simplicity and clarity in labeling.
- People who want to spend as little as possible.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Nature’s Bounty Iron
- Folks who prioritize flavor.
- Anyone with a sensitive stomach — may be advisable to take these tablets with a meal rather than on an empty stomach.
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Most Unique Formula Iron Supplement
In addition to 22 milligrams of iron, each one-capsule serving of Garden of Life Iron Complex contains 400 micrograms of folate, 25 milligrams of Vitamin C, 500 micrograms of Vitamin B12, and 310 milligrams of fruit and vegetable juice comprised of 23 different ingredients. These capsules are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. The manufacturer claims that these supplements are made from whole food ingredients processed under 115 degrees Fahrenheit which means they are technically still raw, and therefore have their natural enzymes preserved.
For folks looking to get an additional boost of nutrients with their iron supplement, it may be worth considering Garden of Life Iron Complex. In addition to iron, these tablets include Vitamin C, folic acid, and a fruit and veggie juice made with 23 raw ingredients.
Who Should Buy Garden of Life Iron Complex
- Anyone who needs a boost to their Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 intake in addition to iron.
- Those who appreciate their supplements being non-GMO.
- Folks who value the natural enzymes of this product’s raw fruit and vegetable blend combined with their probiotic blend.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Garden of Life Iron Complex
- People who need a higher dose of iron than 22 milligrams per serving.
- Those who don’t want to reach too deep into their wallets.
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Best Iron Supplement Powder
Each 150-milligram serving of BulkSupplements Ferrous Gluconate provides an FDA daily recommended dose of iron. This is a pure supplement so-to-speak, in that there are no other ingredients other than ferrous gluconate. Like most supplements provided by BulkSupplements, this ferrous gluconate is free of soy, dairy, added sugar, gluten, and yeast. It is third-party tested and manufactured to Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) standards.
This iron supplement packs 18 milligrams of iron per 150-milligram serving. It is free of sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, gluten, and additives. It incorporates no other additional ingredients beyond ferrous gluconate.
Who Should Buy BulkSupplements Ferrous Gluconate
- Those who want their supplements to be third-party tested.
- Anyone who appreciates supplements that are manufactured to cGMP standards.
- People looking to keep their budgets tight.
Who Shouldn’t Buy BulkSupplements Ferrous Gluconate
- Folks who would prefer supplements in the form of a capsule or tablet.
- Anyone who wants some additional vitamins in addition to iron.
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What To Consider Before Buying
For folks dealing with an iron deficiency, iron supplements may play a key role in reducing fatigue and ensuring healthy levels of iron in red blood cells. Consult a medical professional before adding iron supplements to your regimen, as most folks can get enough on a daily basis from following a well-balanced diet. Additional amounts of iron can have negative side effects. If you do opt to add iron supplements to your routine, there are a few key features to look for when making a selection.
Types of Iron
The most common form of iron found in iron supplements is ferrous iron or ferric salts. Doses higher than 45 milligrams per day may result in gastrointestinal discomforts, such as nausea or constipation.
Alternatively, carbonyl iron, iron polypeptides, or iron amino-acid chelates may be a bit easier on the stomach (2). If you regularly have stomach issues, it may be wise to seek out these less common forms of iron supplement.
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The FNB has established a daily tolerable upper limit of 45 milligrams of iron-based on when many folks experience stomach issues (3). While some brands offer iron supplements above this daily threshold, they should probably be avoided unless you consult with a medical professional.
Iron supplements can vary widely in terms of what additional nutrients are included in a given tablet or capsule. Some will include a host of additional nutrients, not all of which may be compatible with your dietary needs. Take a look at the label to make sure you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.
In general, iron supplements that include a host of other nutrients will tend to cost more. To get a clear sense of the cost of each supplement, divide the total cost by the number of servings per bottle.
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Iron supplementation is a convenient way for many folks to bolster the amount of iron in their diets. Take into account when you intend to take this supplement on a daily basis. If you’re the type to scarf down vitamins on an empty stomach, you might want to seek out an iron supplement that is intended to be easier on the tummy. It is always better to consult a medical professional before adding an iron supplement to your daily diet.
- Nazanin Abbaspour, et al. Review on iron and its importance for human health. 2014. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. 19(2): 164–174.
Manoguerra AS, Erdman AR, Booze LL, et al. Iron ingestion: an evidence-based consensus guideline for out-of-hospital management. Clinical toxicology (Philadelphia, Pa). 2005;43(6):553-570.
Office of Dietary Supplements – Iron. Nih.gov. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/. Published 2017.