A old friend of mine was a naturopath, and one of her hobbies was educating women on the right iron supplement and taking it at the right time during the day. Here are her tips where I'd like to share:
Avoid anything that is a sulphated form of iron (e.g Ferrous
gradumet, FeFol etc). - These are very poorly assimilated and poorly absorbed
in the gut. It 'dumps' a huge dose of this type of iron and the gut suffers all
this grief (nausea/constipation) for not much iron intake in the end. Most of
these iron supplements are cheap and nasty in my humble opinion.
My favourites are Metagenics 'Haemagenics Intensive Care' (a patented
form of amino acid chelated iron that doesn't dissociate in the gut and is a lot
more stable than others) but it’s is a 'practitioner dispensing only' product
so may have to see a naturopath to get it or the retail version is Ethical
Nutrients 'Iron Plus' (identical product made by same company). For a Hb that
low I'd suggest 1 tab 3 x day separately and ideally in-between meals. Best to
check the ferritin levels too. (This friend is based in Melbourne, Australia so these may not be available but just look out for the general iron level specifications).
Liquid irons work better for some women - I find the liquid
irons work better with some women than others; Floradix 'Floravital' is good -
take 20mls 3xday for Hb that low too. It does get expensive though and bottles
are either 250ml or 500ml. Sometimes I suggest a course of liquid iron, then
tablet iron, etc.
Beware of taking iron with other minerals (such as calcium)
- It's also important to take iron away from other mineral rich meals eg.
calcium (dairy or fortified non-dairys usually a biggie as breakfast), as the
two minerals will naturally compete for absorption and you won’t be making the
most out of your supplements. If you are having an iron-rich meal then you can
take your iron with it too boost the meal up.
Don’t take iron with tea/ coffee – Don’t take iron foods or
supplements with tannin-rich drinks (tea, coffee, some herbal teas).
Red meat is a good source of iron - Red meat is a very good
source of haeme-iron (the redder the meat, the more iron in it) and eating this
alongside vitamin C rich foods is even better - steak with mixed salads etc.This is generally pork, beef, lamb, etc.
Non-haeme (non-meat) sources - The non-haeme iron sources are the 'vegetarian' types of
iron; green leafies : herbs, chorella, spirulina, legumes, pulses, beans etc.
These are good 'sources' but the absorption is affected by other naturally
occuring compounds in the foods e.g. phytates and oxalates etc, these will
often bind to the iron and form insoluable salts/compounds which are not
absorbed via gut wall and end up in bowel for passing.
Overall suggestion - I suggest a balance of everything both non-haeme; haeme
iron sources, a liquid and or a quality iron supplement.