General Question

JLeslie's avatar

How much iron can I take at once?

Asked by JLeslie (65558points) December 20th, 2010

My iron is low, and I feel so much better when I get it up into the normal ranges. It is probably the only mineral, out of the vitamins and minerals I take at times, that I can really feel the difference. I take two Slowfe’s a day, so that is 90mg, although I probably forget once or twice a week, so let’s say 5 days a week, and I take a multi plus iron about 3 or 4 days a week. The thing is I take the multi with food, because some of the vitamins in that are recommended with food, and from what I understand the type of iron in pills is better absorbed on an empty stomach?

I vaguely remember a friend being advised by her doctor to take 2 slowfe 3 times a day. But that sounds very high to me. I know there is danger of heart problems with high iron, so don’t worry, it is not that I think more is better, or that there is no such thing as too much, I know it can be very dangerous.

What I guess I am really wondering is whether it is dangerous to have too much at once, and how much do you advise is too much? I have my iron checked every 3 to 6 months, and a CBC.

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18 Answers

chyna's avatar

I don’t know how much is too much, but be aware that it can cause you to be severely constipated.

mcbealer's avatar

Supplementing with iron vitamins can cause constipation if you over do it.

I would suggest eating iron rich foods instead.

Additionally, the absorption rate of iron is much higher when it’s paired with foods rich in vitamin C.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @chyna.
Everyone is different. A good sign that you are taking to much would be constipation. If you do become constipated then take one every other day. If that still is too much then lengthen the days till you have normal stools. I usually will take a multi vitamin with iron, from once a day till once every 3 days. Some days you will need less because of iron that you will otherwise get in your food.
Eat an egg maybe about 3 times a week, on the days you decide not to take a multi vitamin.
Of course thats, provided you don’t have a cholesterol problem.

Mariah's avatar

I take 325 mg twice a day, which is a high dose but safe. And you’re correct that it’s better absorbed on an empty stomach. I’ve been told that taking it with orange juice helps it to be absorbed, also.

Rarebear's avatar

How do you know your iron is low?

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear As I said, I get tested. Especially my hemoglobulin, and whatever else on the CBC that shows whacky red blood cells is typically low. I went to a hemotologist once, a while ago, the numbers came up taking the dose I am taking now, but then I slacked, and here I am again trying to get my numbers up. I have a lot of muscle trouble, and I think there might be some relationship to the iron.

@mcbealer I could never eat enough iron rich food, unless I ate liver daily, and then I would be dead from heart disease because of the cholesterol.

@Mariah Interesting. Is that a prescription dose?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Yes, it can be dangerous, especially for men. Please consult your doctor to help you determine what the best dosage level is for you.

cazzie's avatar

Ditto with the ‘too much causes constipation’ thing, but you should take iron with vitamin C as well or it won’t get absorbed, so a big YES with a big glass of orange juice with it.

JLeslie's avatar

All of you who says too much causes constipation. Constipation is a side effect. There are people who need iron who get very constipated from taking. I don’t think constipation means you are taking too much in terms of iron levels.

@CaptainHarley It is only “more dangerous for men” because men are much less likely to be low in iron. It is equally dangerous for men and women to get too much iron. That is why daily vitamin and mineral supplements for menopausal women usually don’t contain iron, or very low iron. Because, they don’t regularly bleed anymore. The best thing is to get it checked with a blood test before taking anything.

@all I had heard vitamin c helps absorption, and I would guess the acid in OJ helps also. When I have it in the house I take the iron with the OJ, but that is not very often. Maybe I will read up more on that. Thank you for brining it up. I know I absorb some, because my iron does go up when I take it. I already feel a little stronger and more energy having started taking it again a few weeks ago.

I hope a few doctors more doctors will answer.

I am not going to take medicine based on fluther advice, but I like to get more opinions than just my own doctor. She probably just tells me to take what she tells everyone to take. It can vary widely I have found. One of my doctors told me to try zinc for my hair. When I asked her how much, she replied, “one pill.” But how much? “Just one pill.” If a Jelly said one pill, I would blast them for not giving a real answer, unless it only comes in one dose., which I highly doubt.

cazzie's avatar

Taking iron supplements can give you constipation, but they are now, regularly formulated with stool softener in them. If you are still getting constipated with the newer formulated ones, you may be taking too much. Read what actually happens when people take too much iron because we only absorb about 10% and sometimes less due to disease, so a doctor should always be consulted and advice not disregarded. Iron is not easily excreted or lost, so we don’t need the same, as say, Vitamin C, that is water soluble and we pee out.
We don’t pee out iron and if it builds up in our system it can cause irreversible liver damage.

Polyphenols block the absorption of Iron.
Check your diet for this compound. It’s sneaky and shows up in the things we love.
Polyphenols are major inhibitors of iron absorption. Polyphenols or phenolic compounds include chlorogenic acid found in cocoa, coffee and some herbs. Phenolic acid found in apples, peppermint and some herbal teas, and tannins found in black teas, coffee, cocoa, spices, walnuts, fruits such as apples, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries all have the ability to inhibit iron absorption. Of the polyphenols, Swedish cocoa and certain teas demonstrate the most powerful iron absorption inhibiting capabilities, in some cases up to 90%. Coffee is high in tannin and chlorogenic acid; one cup of certain types of coffee can inhibit iron absorption by as much as 60%. These foods or substance should not be consumed within two hours prior to and following your main iron-rich meal.

A glass of wine with your steak or iron pill helps and certainly picks up my mood. ‘smile’

Iron enriched cereals are a good source as well. If you get sick of taking your pill with a glass of OJ, try eating a couple fruits high in vit C, like kiwi fruit, strawberries, tangerines, blueberries. (or hee hee, as I said earlier, a half a glass of wine also helps.)

You could buy yourself a cast iron sauce pot and cook up tomato sauce in it. The acids in the tomato carry some of the iron and the acidic sauce helps your body absorb the iron, so it’s a darn good deal all around.

Biochemistry can be boring for most people, but I find it fascinating. There is a lot of quackery out there with so-called nutrition studies that are poorly performed and conclusions drawn for the sole purpose of selling products, so don’t be duped. Stay well informed and I hope the information helps you to make decisions that improve your health.

CaptainHarley's avatar

“Take Iron with Stool Softener! You’ll ge GLAD you did!” : D

Rarebear's avatar

Usually taking more than 3 tablets a day isn’t any more helpful.

JLeslie's avatar

Iron tablets are made with stool softner in them? I hope mine aren’t. I have to check that. I don’t want to be taking that medication every day.

Meanwhile, this question is not about being constipated. That was not my gripe, just wondering how much iron is safe, how high I can dose, to help bring up my numbers as fast as possible. Like with my Vitamin D, I take 50,000 IU’s once a week, and additional D in multis and sometimes with calcium. But, I would not take much more for fear of blood calcium levels going to high.

Well, thanks everyone! Some good info here.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie What I’m trying to get across, is you can take a gazillion mg of iron and still not absorb it. You can take a lot of iron safely one week, have a change in your diet and suddenly absorb much more, putting a strain on your liver, causing damage. It’s not as easy a question as ‘how much can I take’. Iron and Vit D are very different.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie I understood, you were clear, and I very much appreciate the information. As you can see from the original Q I was putting consideration into absorption, so I very much apprecate your annswer.

I was ony comparing D to Iron, as to point out I care about too much at once, and actually what I left off about the D, because I seem to be not thinking straight today, is that some doctors won’t prescribe large doses of D at all, and some might raise me to twice a week on the megapill. It varies so much.

choreplay's avatar

Everything I cook on top of the stove is cooked in my iron skillet. My wife was told that during one of her pregnencys using one would help.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah My doctor suggested the dose you are taking. :)

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