More than a quarter of the world's population is anemic, with about one-half of the burden from iron deficiency. The prevention and treatment of iron deficiency is a major public health goal, especially in women, children, and individuals in low-income countries.
The treatment for this condition depends upon the individual and the severity of the symptoms. Ultimately, the goals of treating an iron deficiency are to bring back normal functioning levels of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and iron. Following are the prominent treatment options:
The first and often easiest step that doctors recommend correcting minor iron deficiencies is to make simple changes to the diet. Although the best source of iron is red meat, there are plenty of other options for people who are vegetarian or vegan or people avoiding red meat due to heart health issues. For example, spinach, lentils, baked beans, soybeans, tofu, fried fruits, cereals are excellent sources of iron in the human body.
In cases of moderate and severe iron deficiency, dietary changes are often not enough to improve the health of an individual. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter iron pills to replenish the iron stores in your body. To improve the chances that your body will absorb the iron in the tablets, you may be instructed to:
- Take iron tablets on an empty stomach. If possible, take your iron tablets when your stomach is empty. However, because iron tablets can upset your stomach, you may need to take your iron tablets with meals.
- Do not take iron with antacids. Medications that immediately relieve heartburn symptoms can interfere with the absorption of iron. Take iron two hours before or four hours after you take antacids.
- Take iron tablets with vitamin C. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron. Your doctor might recommend taking your iron tablets with a glass of orange juice, with a vitamin C supplement or an iron supplement that has vitamin C in it already incorporated.
- Iron supplements can cause constipation, so your doctor may also recommend a stool softener. Iron may turn your stools black, which is a harmless side effect.
Iron deficiency can not be corrected overnight. You may need to take iron supplements for several months or longer to replenish your iron reserves. Generally, you will start to feel better after a week or so of treatment. Ask your doctor when to have your blood rechecked to measure your iron levels.
Injectable Iron Therapy
Another treatment for severe cases of iron deficiency anemia is iron therapy. This involves injecting iron into an IV line in a blood vessel or into a muscle. This option is typically only considered when a patient is unable to take iron supplements by mouth due to another medical condition.
For very severe cases of iron deficiency, it may be necessary to receive a transfusion of red blood cells. This is a somewhat common procedure that involves giving a person blood via IV line through a blood vessel. This is typically a treatment used on patients who have a high risk of heart conditions or other medical issues that could be worsened by iron deficiency anemia.
Dosage and Duration Recommendations
The Food and Nutrition Board- at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that men between the ages of 19 and 50 years old get eight milligrams of iron per day and that women in this age range get 18 milligrams of iron per day. After the age of 51, both genders are recommended to get eight milligrams of iron daily.
For children under six months, both genders should get 0.27 milligrams of iron, seven- to one-year-olds 11 milligrams, one- to three-year-olds seven milligrams, and four- to eight-year-olds 10 milligrams. Nine- to 13-year-olds should get eight milligrams of iron, while 14- to 18-year old males need 11 milligrams and 14- to 18-year-old females need 15 milligrams.
These recommendations vary based on the individual, so consult your trusted healthcare provider about the appropriate dosage to take and duration of time to take iron supplements based upon dietary intake and lifestyle.
EBMfer is a vegan iron supplement that has vitamin C as an added advantage that helps increase energy levels in people with iron deficiency. EBMfer is suitable for use in pregnancy and in menstruating women. EBMfer is available in capsules containing 100 mg elemental iron per capsule and raspberry flavoured liquid containing 5 mg elemental iron per mL of the liquid.
EBMmoms capsules is a vegetarian or vegan prenatal supplement that contains 100 mg iron and 1000 mcg of B12 including 12 vitamins and 5 minerals.