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How should I take iron?

Elizabeth Casparro, MPH,RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Iron is best absorbed only with certain foods or beverages. Acidity and vitamin C aid with iron absorption. Therefore, I recommend citrus or tomato juices when taking an iron supplement. If you are consuming iron rich foods, I also recommend pairing them with something with these characteristics. For example, having a spinach (iron source) salad with mandarin orange slices (vitamin C and acidic). Dairy products, however, are not recommended since iron and calcium compete for absorption via the same pathway.

Iron may come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. Follow your doctor's exact instructions. Typically, iron is taken one to four times per day between meals. It should be taken on an empty stomach if possible. If this causes stomach upset, you can take it with food. Generally, iron should be taken one hour before or two hours after eating.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.