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Are iron supplements or dietary sources better for anemia?

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Quick Answer

Although the body absorbs iron best when it comes from meat, a person who has iron-deficiency anemia may also need an iron supplement in order to meet the body's increased need for iron, according to Mayo Clinic. Even when a blood test shows that an anemic patient is no longer deficient in iron, a doctor may recommend that the patient continue iron supplementation in order to rebuild the iron reserves in the body and prevent a recurrence.

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Full Answer

There are additional steps the anemic person can take in order to increase the absorption of iron from a supplement, advises Mayo Clinic. These include taking the iron supplement on an empty stomach, including a source of vitamin C with the supplement and avoiding antacids, which can prevent the stomach from absorbing iron. While the person may start to feel better after a week or two of treatment, the anemia may still require continued iron supplementation.

In order to prevent anemia, people should include iron-rich foods in the diet, says Mayo Clinic. The best dietary sources of iron include red meat, poultry, seafood and pork. Nonmeat sources of iron include leafy green vegetables, legumes, dried fruit and fortified grains; however, the body absorbs less iron from these sources than from meat.

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