According to Esther Crain for Women's Health magazine, people who believe they are iron deficient should speak with a doctor about their symptoms and have a blood test to determine if an iron supplement is necessary. Symptoms such as cold hands and feet, chronic fatigue, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath commonly afflict people with anemia. Before supplementing, people should attempt to achieve adequate iron levels through a balanced diet.
Medline Plus explains that if a doctor has recommended an iron supplement, the patient should only take the prescribed dose at the correct times. Iron toxicity is a serious threat to health, so it is important to take iron only when absolutely necessary and to stop once the body's iron levels have been restored. Some iron supplements are known to cause stomach cramping and nausea, and certain people may experience diarrhea or vomiting if their dosage is too high. Iron supplements are also known to result in black stools, but this side effect is not a cause for alarm unless the stools appear tarry or contain red streaks. Vitamin C aids the body's absorption of iron if taken at the same time, and this can be achieved with vitamin C tablets or pure citrus juice.