What are the side effects of an iron supplement?


Quick Answer

The most common side effects of taking an iron supplement are constipation, dark stools, heartburn and upset stomach, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The less common side effects include fatigue, weight loss, arthritis and heart failure, which happens to those who take too much of this supplement over a long period, notes the Office on Women's Health.

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What are the side effects of an iron supplement?
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Full Answer

To mitigate the side effects of iron supplements, the Office on Women's Health recommends splitting the recommended iron dosage in half, then gradually increasing the dosage. Side effects of iron supplements can also be reduced by taking iron with food. It can take up to one month before side effects lessen, the Cleveland Clinic adds.

Side effects that are more serious may occur when unneeded iron supplements are taken over a long period. The Office on Women's Health explains that when iron builds up in the body, an iron overload known as hemochromatosis may occur. Early symptoms of the disease include fatigue, joint pain and weight loss. As time goes on, arthritis, liver disease and heart failure may occur, according to the Office on Women's Health.

Because of the potential seriousness of the side effects, the Merck Manual explains that men and women who do not menstruate should not take iron supplements without being under the care of a physician.

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