Q: At my last blood test my doctor said I had low iron levels. She gave me a prescription for iron supplements, but they made me feel horribly sick and constipated. I don’t really know what to do since I know that’s why I’m feeling tired, but the side effects of the iron the doctor gave me are just too terrible for me to handle. Is there anything natural that could help without giving me constipation?
A: Iron deficiency can absolutely cause fatigue, as well as dizziness, cold hands and feet, pale skin, headaches and more. It’s important to correct iron deficiency, though many iron supplements are notorious for causing constipation and stomach upset, something no one wants to deal with.
Thankfully there are natural, plant based iron supplements which can help. Plant based iron supplements, like Solgar’s Gentle Iron, will not cause constipation or stomach issues and can help to bring iron levels back in to the normal range. I’ve personally taken Solgar’s Gentle Iron capsules when I was diagnosed with low iron levels and at my next blood test it was back in the target range, and I never had any stomach issues from taking it.
Iron supplements are best taken with vitamin C, like a glass of orange juice, to enhance absorption. There are some foods that inhibit iron absorption- dairy products, eggs, spinach, coffee, kale, and nuts to name a few; those foods should not be consumed for a few hours apart from iron supplements for optimal iron absorption. It would also be a good idea to be consciously add more iron containing foods to your diet- beans, dried fruit, brown rice, liver, and red meat.
Undiagnosed iron deficiency is incredibly common in the US. It has been estimated that up to 20% of all pre menopausal women have iron deficiency anemia, and that one third of people over age 75 are anemic as well. Thankfully, low iron levels are treatable, and there are natural, plant based supplements which can bring your iron levels back to normal without constipation or stomach upset.