Five Truths About Iron

Five Truths About Iron

Iron plays a key role in the creation of red blood cells. Your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. If you develop an iron deficiency (anemia), your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells, and you don’t get the oxygen your body needs, leaving you continuously exhausted. Severe cases of anemia sometimes result in a blood transfusion. But generally, increasing your iron levels can be as simple as eating the right foods or introducing a supplement into your diet.

There are a lot of myths when it comes to iron intake. Here are five truths that will help when you’re wading between fact and fiction:


Iron supplements are a good idea if you need to up your levels, but beware, not all iron supplements are created equal. The key to optimal iron supplementation is not how much you take but rather what is better absorbed. It's best to take a small amount of supplements that are more easily absorbed, than a large amount that barely absorbs at all. Some forms or iron can be harsh on your digestive system, commonly causing constipation and cramping and because they are poorly absorbed, you often have to take a high dose to compensate. These forms include Ferrous Sulphate and Ferrous Gluconate. Ferrous Fumarate on the other hand, is an easily absorbed form of iron that does not upset digestion, so it prevents unpleasant side effects like constipation and cramping.


Because iron is poorly absorbed in the body, many people barely meet the minimum daily requirement (men 10-12mg, women 15mg, post-menopause 10mg, during pregnancy 30mg, children 10mg). Women are particularly at risk of iron deficiency due to iron loss through menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding, so some good tips to enhance iron absorption include:

  • Vitamin C increases iron absorption - if you take vitamin c with iron supplements or when you eat foods that contain iron, you'll be more likely to reap the benefits. 
  • Avoid drinking coffee and tea or eating excessive amounts of grain foods and fibre alongside iron supplements or iron-containing foods - these all decrease iron absorption. 
  • Avoid taking high doses of calcium, magnesium or zinc alongside iron supplements or iron-containing food. These also inhibit iron absorption.


Iron in food comes in two main forms, haem and non-haem iron.
Haem iron is found in meat, seafood and poultry, and is easily absorbed by our bodies. Non-haem iron is found mostly in plant foods,
especially green leafy vegetables such as silver beet, spinach, broccoli, beans, lentils, grains, nuts and seeds. Non-haem iron is not
absorbed as well, so having some vitamin C when eating these foods will help your body to absorb the iron.


Always seek medical advice before taking an iron supplement; iron deficiency is bad, but too much iron isn’t good either. Iron is a heavy metal and at high doses, it is toxic to the body. Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disorder where the body simply loads and stores too much of the metal, making the body unable to rid itself of the excess. This level of iron, when left untreated, can build up in major areas of the body such as the heart, liver, pancreas, joints, and pituitary. If the excess is not removed, these organs can become diseased.


Having low iron can dramatically affect your energy levels, as your blood isn't able to effectively carry oxygen around your body. Low levels of iron can affect your mood and put your immune system under pressure. Some common signs and symptoms of anemia include:

  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Poor memory
  • Sensitivity to the cold and/or colds hands and feet
  • Palpitations

It’s important to remember that symptoms vary per individual and some of these signs and symptoms are similar to other health conditions. To determine if your iron levels are the problem, get a blood test through your doctors. If your levels are low, a good supplement can be a good way to boost them. The Good Health Iron ChewsTM are an easy chewing tablet that you take once a day. They taste great and contain absolutely no artificial sweetener. If you’re interested, find out more here.

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