Iron supplements are dietary supplements containing iron that can be prescribed by a doctor for a medical reason, or purchased from a vitamin shop, drug store etc. They are primarily used to treat anemia or other iron deficiencies. There are three ways that an iron supplement can be delivered: orally, intravenously or intramuscularly.
This tablet is needed by pregnant women. Many women have an inadequate level of iron in their system to begin with, and the lack becomes more pronounced during pregnancy.
Iron is very vital for the fetus; it is the only nutrient which the fetus depends totally on the mother for the supply. The average woman cannot depend on diet alone. The demand doubles during pregnancy and so iron supplements are added to compensate for the insufficiency.
Iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight. It's also associated with a higher risk of stillbirth or newborn death, so it's something to take seriously.
There are two types of iron, heme and nonheme iron, categorized this way because the former is derived from meat and the other from non-meat sources. Heme iron is more readily absorbed than nonheme iron.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency may include brittle nails, swelling or soreness of the tongue, cracks in the sides of the mouth, an enlarged spleen, and frequent infections.
People who have iron-deficiency anemia may have an unusual craving for nonfood items, such as ice, dirt, paint, or starch. This craving is called pica (PI-ka or PE-ka).
Some people who have iron-deficiency anemia develop restless legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move the legs. This urge to move often occurs with strange and unpleasant feelings in the legs. People who have RLS often have a hard time sleeping.
Within a week or so after starting treatment, you should be producing a lot of new red blood cells and your hemoglobin level will begin to rise. It usually takes just a couple of months for the anemia to resolve, but your caregiver will likely advise you to continue taking iron supplements for several more months so you can replenish your iron stores.
One more important thing to note: Be vigilant about keeping any pills containing iron in childproof containers and away from children. More kids die from iron overdose each year than from any other kind of accidental drug poisoning. In fact, a single adult dose can poison a small child.
Take your prenatal vitamin and eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of iron-rich foods. Red meat is your best bet, although poultry (dark meat), other meats, and shellfish are good sources, too. Non-animal iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, tofu, raisins, dates, prunes, figs, apricots, potatoes (leave the skin on), broccoli, beets, leafy green vegetables, whole grain breads, nuts and seeds, blackstrap molasses, oatmeal, and iron-fortified cereals. Keep in mind that your body absorbs the iron from animal sources (heme iron) much more readily than the iron from non-animal sources (non-heme iron).