Phoebe came into the pharmacy explaining she is 27 weeks pregnant with twins and just had a recent blood test which revealed she was very low in iron. She remembered that when she was pregnant with her first child, she became anaemic roughly around the same time and her obstetrician recommended an iron supplement called FerroGradumet. The iron supplement made her severely constipated and traumatised from taking an iron supplement again. She asked what should she do?
It was explained to Phoebe just how common iron levels drop during the third trimester, so not to be too concerned, however not taking an iron supplement is not an option and we need to get her iron levels up in time for the birth. It was explained to Phoebe that many of the older formulations of iron are often not well absorbed, in fact, it is estimated that often less than 10% of a conventional iron supplement would be absorbed and the rest excreted. So a very common side effect would be dark stools and that is in fact the iron being excreted. There are much gentler formulations of iron available and one I recommended to Phoebe is called Spatone. Spatone comes in a sachet, and each sachet contains only 5mg elemental iron, however that iron is much more readily absorbed without causing the well known side effects of constipation and stomach pains associated with the conventional iron formulations. The dose when pregnant, is two sachets daily in order to get the required levels during pregnancy. An adult woman needs to absorb between 1.5 – 2mg of iron per day. For a pregnant woman, this can increase to 2 – 4mg in the second trimester and 3 – 6mg in the third trimester. Many foods are good sources of iron. Oatmeal and other whole grains, red meats, liver, dried fruits, beans, peas, seafood, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds all contain iron. However, morning sickness may limit your dietary iron intake and when iron levels are very low, iron supplements are required.
There is another form of iron that is very well-absorbed and gentle on the stomach and that is in the form of an amino acid chelate. Don’t worry about the term, but to explain an iron amino acid chelate, is iron attached to a tiny protein. Our bodies have many channels to absorb protein so hence the iron can get readily absorbed by hanging on to a tiny protein and entering the bloodstream. There are many brands that now formulate iron in an amino acid chelate. For example, if you required iron on its own then Ethical nutrients make a product called Iron Max and if requiring iron together with other vitamins and minerals, Bioceuticals InNatal, Metagenics Fem Prenatal and Fabfol make a pregnancy supplement containing an iron amino acid chelate.
A few little tips given to Phoebe was:
- Take the iron supplement with some vitamin C ie some orange juice to help improve the absorption of iron
- Take the iron supplement preferably on an empty stomach
- Avoid drinking tea and coffee together with iron supplement ( need to leave a 30-45 minute gap)
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog and if there are any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Also, if you tried a remedy that worked well for your children that was, or wasn’t mentioned above, let me know. I hope this information does help.
Disclaimer – The material on this blog is only to be used for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before applying the methods, medicines, techniques or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. The names of people mentioned in this blog have been changed to protect the real patient’s confidentiality.