Iron is an integral mineral for our health, helping in the transference of energy from other nutrients and playing a role in distributing oxygen throughout the body. It’s available in a variety of foods, including red meat, legumes, and Popeye’s favorite strength-boosting snack, 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 has established a daily Upper Limit of 45mg of iron through supplementation, and 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

Editors’ Choice:

Vitron-C High Potency Iron

Pros:

  • Each tablet contains 125mg of Vitamin C as well as 65mg of iron.
  • The manufacturer claims that the carbonyl iron used in this formulation is more slowly absorbed, making it less harsh on the stomach. 
  • Gluten-free and vegan certified. 
  • Compared to other iron supplements with additional nutrients, this is a very competitively priced item.

Cons:

  • Some reviewers mention that these tablets leave a bit of an unpleasant after taste.
Vitron-C High Potency Iron
Vitron-C High Potency Iron
Vitron-C High Potency Iron

With a strong dose of Vitamin C as well as iron, Vitron-C High Potency Iron tablets utilize Vitamin C to help increase iron absorption (1). These tablets are designed to increase iron without causing stomach troubles.

Best Value:

Nature’s Bounty Iron

Pros:

  • Each 1 tablet serving of Nature’s Bounty Iron contains 65mg of iron. 
  • These tablets are vegan friendly and gluten free. 
  • Nature’s Bounty does not make any outlandish claims in their marketing, simply stating that iron plays a key role in red blood cell production. 
  • On a cost per serving basis, this is a very cost-friendly item. 

Cons:

  • Some reviewers complained that these iron supplement dissolved incredibly quickly and carried a very unpleasant taste. 
  • Probably advisable to take these tablets with a meal, as they may upset an empty stomach. 
Nature’s Bounty Iron
Nature’s Bounty Iron
Nature’s Bounty Iron

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. 

Also Consider:

MegaFood Blood Builder

Pros:

  • MegaFood markets their Blood Builder tablets as being made with real food, but with added nutrients, which they claim decreases the likelihood of nausea or other stomach troubles. 
  • Tablets are GMO-free, gluten free, and vegan friendly. 
  • Comes in Frustration Free Packaging, meaning the packaging is recyclable and does not come with an overabundance of materials. 
  • Intended to increase iron levels and reduce fatigue without causing stomach troubles.

Cons:

  • At 26mg of iron per serving, this falls on the low end of the iron supplements we looked at. 
  • On a cost per serving basis, this is one of the more expensive supplements among those we compared.
MegaFood Blood Builder
MegaFood Blood Builder
MegaFood Blood Builder

MegaFood Blood Builder offers a supplement that provides Vitamin C, folic acid, Vitamin B12 and beetroot along with 25mg or iron per dose. These GMO-free tablets are designed to be taken on an empty stomach.

Unique Formula:

Garden of Life Iron Complex

Pros:

  • In addition to iron, each serving contains folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12 and 310mg of a fruit and veggie juice. 
  • These tablets are vegan, gluten free, and non-GMO .
  • The manufacturer claims that these supplements are made from whole food ingredients processed under 115º F, making them raw, and therefore preserving natural enzymes. 

Cons:

  • At just 22mg of iron per serving, this is on the lower end of the iron supplements we looked at. 
  • On a cost per serving basis, this is one of the pricier options on the market. 
Garden of Life Iron Complex
Garden of Life Iron Complex
Garden of Life Iron Complex

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. 

Methodology

For folks dealing with an iron deficiency, iron supplements may play a key role in reducing fatigue and ensuring health levels of iron in red blood cells. Consult a medical professional before adding iron supplements to your regimen, as most folks will get enough on a daily basis from following a well-balanced diet, and 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 ire ferrous iron or ferric salts. Doses higher than 45mg per day may result in gastrointestinal discomfort, 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. Of course, consult a medical professional. 

Dosage

The Food and Nutrition Board has established a daily tolerable upper limit of 45mg of iron based on when many folks experience stomach issues (3). While some brands will offer iron supplements above this daily threshold, they should probably be avoided unless you consult with a medical professional. 

What’s Inside

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. 

Cost

In general, iron supplements that include a host of other nutrients will tend to cost more. But to get a clear sense of the cost of each supplement, divide the total cost by the amount of servings per bottle. 

BarBend Tips

  • Take into account when you intend to take this supplement on a daily basis. If you’re the type to bolt down your vitamins on an empty stomach, you might want to seek out an iron supplement that is intended to be easier on the tummy. 
  • Consult a medical professional before adding an iron supplement to your daily diet. 

Iron supplementation is a convenient way for many folks to bolster the amount of iron in their diets. Before you add iron to your diet, however, check in with a doctor. 

References

  1. Hurrell R, Egli I. Iron bioavailability and dietary reference values. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2010;91(5):1461S-1467S.
  2. 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.
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements – Iron. Nih.gov. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/. Published 2017.