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Types of Iron Supplements - Unwanted Side Effects

Types of Iron Supplements – Choose To Prevent The Undesired Side Effects

Types of Iron Supplements – Choose To Prevent The Undesired Side Effects

I am glad you are reading this review before purchasing an iron supplement because taking vitamins, is not something that should be done without consideration. On top of that, if you have not been diagnosed with iron deficiency OR anemia, I want you to ask yourself, why are you thinking of taking an iron supplement? Did you know that anemia and iron deficiency are NOT the same? Did you know that taking too much iron can cause iron toxicity in the body and there are very serious health consequences? If not, I would really encourage you to read my article regarding iron function, so that you can understand the important role of iron and what can happen if you have an iron deficiency or too much of it. If you are sure that an iron supplement is what you need, then I would be happy to explain the types of iron supplements and what the advantages and disadvantages are.

A Quick Explanation of Iron Deficiency vs Anemia

Iron deficiency

The body contains approximately 45mg/kg of elemental iron we lose approximately 0.1 % of iron daily, due to physiological functions such as sweating. This small percentage lost, is usually supplemented very easily through nutrition, which equates to about 1-2mg of iron per day to replace this physiological loss. Men, do not experience iron deficiency unless a drastic health issue arises or accident occurs. Women on the other hand, lose substantially more iron naturally, due to menstrual cycle, childbirth, breastfeeding and menopause.

To give you an idea of the significant difference between men and women, the daily nutritional adequate intake of iron from food is: (1)

ADULTS             MEN             WOMEN         PREGNANCY

19–50 years      8 mg                18 mg                 27 mg

So iron deficiency is simply, a low amount of iron. This can be tested by the levels of ferritin in the blood. Ferritin are the complexes that bind to iron in the body, because iron alone, is toxic to the body.

If you have iron deficiency, the recommended daily dose for a supplement is 150mg to 200mg. Always speak to your doctor about dosage as it may be more or less. Many vegetarians lack iron due to meat being one of the highest sources of iron in food and therefore require a higher dose.


Synptoms of anemia - types of iron supplements

Anemia develops when there is a low level of hemoglobin. This happens gradually overtime, usually as a result of all iron stores being completely depleted.

This is because iron is needed to produce hemoglobin and hemoglobin is what carries oxygen in our blood. If our iron depletion has reached this low, resulting in anemia, you would have IRON DEFICIENCY ANEMIA.

You can also have anemia WITHOUT low iron, and this is due to other health issues.

Types of Iron Supplements

There are many types of iron formulations and which one you select is important depending on your situation.

Ferrous Salts

Ferrous salt formulations are the more prescribed type of iron supplement and it comes in 3 different forms:

a. Ferrous sulfate

b. Ferrous gluconate

c. Ferrous fumarate

A tablet of 325mg typically contains 60mg of elemental iron, and 3 tables are recommended daily, totaling 180mg of elemental iron per day.

Side Effects

Women curled up - ferrous salt iron - side effects

Oral iron therapy, particularly in this format, is known by many, for its side affects which include: constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, and abdominal pain. The symptoms are usually pretty uncomfortable, and so many people just quit the treatment.

Taking iron ferrous salts with food helps with the side-affects, but significantly decrease the effectiveness or absorption of the iron from the supplement, by up to 50%. The other options to decrease symptoms are:

a. taking smaller doses

b. taking less frequent doses per day

c. chose a polysaccharide complex, which is the type of iron supplement I will discuss next:)

PRECAUTION: You should not be taking this if your anemia is not due to low iron.

If you decide to go with a ferrous salt formulation, studies show that there is no difference in side-affects, when comparing the 3 different forms of ferrous salt formulations.

Elderly traffic sign - iron supplements - high side effectsWith the older population, 150mg of ferrous salt supplements does not increase the rate of which their hemoglobin and iron levels increase, but instead increased their gastrointestinal side affects. One study was conducted on elderly patients over 80 years old. (2)

Iron Polysaccharide

The main reason for preference of this type of iron supplement is because many studies have shown, that the slow-releasing affects of iron, by these polysaccharide compounds, significantly decreases the side affects. (3)


1. You should not take iron polysaccharide if you have:

  • hemochromatosis; – This is when you have a genitic/herditary form of iron toxicity.
  • hemosiderosis; – Another for of iron toxicity or iron overload.
  • hemolytic anemia. – this is when the cause of your anemia is not due to iron deficiency.

Polysaccharide iron - fatal for Children

2. Do not give iron polysaccharide to a child without medical advice.


3. If you are taking other medications, discuss the with your doctor as certain medications can decrease the effectiveness of the iron polysaccharide supplement and vice-versa.

4. Should not be taken as a general daily iron supplement for someone who has normal levels of iron.



Fermax - rated numer 1- 5 years canada wide

This would be your polysaccharide option of choice.

This supplement has been named the number one polysaccharide iron supplement in Canada, for 5 consecutive years.

Overall reviews by patients, from several online vitamin stores, range from 4.4* to 5*. The biggest advantage of this supplement is that it is much better tolerated and causes little to no symptoms.

Cheapest Price


==> 100 Capsules (Purchase here) <==


Ubuy Online Shopping

Just Select Your Country


==> 3 packs of 30 capsules each (Purchase here) <==

Other advantages:

1. Safe for pregnant women

2. Safe for elderly

3. Vegan capsules

4. 1 tablet dosage of 150 mg

5. Powder option with no taste and does not stain teeth.

Disadvantage: many studies have compared polysaccharide to ferrous salt, and other the side-affects are significantly better, the absorption of iron by the body is also significantly reduced.


Feosol - 2 types of iron supplement in one

Based on what I have read, I really do think this one may be the best of both worlds. Think of it as the hybrid supplement because it consists of a dual-formulation. In my article function of iron, I explained the there are 2 types of dietary iron sources: heme iron which is found in animal protein and non-heme iron found in plant based foods.

Feosol Complete is the only iron supplement that contains both Heme Iron and Non-heme iron. So what makes this advantageous:

1. The non-heme iron is a polysaccharide Iron Complex while the heme iron is not. Together however, this increases the absorption of iron compared to a polysaccharide supplement and minimizes the side affects that is experienced from a ferrous salt supplement.

3. You get both types of iron to the body and for vegetarians, this would be very helpful.

4. Tablets are gluten free.

5. Safe for pregnant women

6. Safe for elderly

Disadvantage: 1 table contains a total of 28 mg of elemental iron: 22mg of heme iron and 6 mg of non-heme iron.

Cheapest Price


==> 3 packs of 30 Capsules (Purchase here) <==


Ubuy Online Shopping

Just Select Your Country


==> 3 packs of 30 capsules each (Purchase here) <==

My Final Suggestions

Fermax 150

Full 150 mg dose in 1 tabletDecreased Iron Absorption
#1 Rated 5 Years in a RowFatal in Children
Little to No Side EffectsOnly contains Heme Iron



Contains Heme and Non Heme IronOnly 28 mg of iron per tablet
High Iron AbsorptionMuliple doses may be required
Little to no side effectsCan be more expensive taking more per day

Feedback - My final Suggestions

OK so first and foremost, if you do not have any symptoms of anemia or iron deficiency, I would not recommend a vitamin that is specific for iron supplementation, especially the feramax because it has 150mg of iron per tablet.

Instead take a multivitamin with some iron and other vitamin ingredients is always safe and recommended. The feosol has a very low dose of iron, and it may be possible to take this one daily, as a regular supplement, but always discuss with your doctor becuase to iron toxicity is very serious.

Ladies if you are pregnant or are nursing, being low in iron can cause major health issues for the newborn, so discuss iron supplementation with your doctor. And really important that if you have any concern for a child to get there hands on feramax, this is FATAL for them. So please, if medicine can be left unattended in your household, this is not worth the risk.

If you do have symptoms and/or a diagnosis that your iron is low or you have anemia as a result of iron deficiency, choose a supplement that reacts well with your body.

My personal preference???

I prefer feosol complete over feramax because it provides the 2 different types of iron, and it is also slow-absorbing and many reviews confirm that they do not experience the negative side-affects as you would with a ferrous salt formulas.

The disadvantage is that ferosol only contains 28 mg of elemental iron compared to 150mg in the feramax. Depending on your doctor’s recommendations, you may need more than 1 tablet a day, and for some, this may not be easy. I know myself, I tend to forget if I can not take my medications once/day. I become forgetful. It may also be more expensive in the long run, having to take 2-3 tablets per day.

In the end, the most important is that your levels of iron reach a health level, and you do not feel horribly sick. Everyone is different so you may want to order a supplement for a month, and see how it affects you.

I really hoped this help you understand the different types of iron supplements because it can be overwhelming. Iron is really essential for our health so make sure you obtain a blood test from your doctor to measure your ferritin and hemoglobin levels and then if necessary, take a supplement:)

8 thoughts on “Types of Iron Supplements – Choose To Prevent The Undesired Side Effects”

  1. Excellent information, too often I see individuals pushing supplement use, even to those who would not need them. I never realized the severity of the side effects iron supplements could cause, until after my wife’s first pregnancy. I did not know that you could be anemic without an iron deficiency. I will definitely recommend this article to those in my life with iron deficiencies.

    • Hello XRJamesRS,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and personal experience.

      I am one who really only takes vitamins if absolutely necessary. And to be honest, it has only happened once, when my stress was way to high during a specific period in my life. Today, I am taking vitamins because I am pregnant. ADid your wife suffer because of vitamins during her pregnancy?

      Overall though, I really do feel strongly, that if you eat a well-balanced healthy diet, all in good moderation, you usually get the vitamins you need naturally.

      Thank you again for reading my post!

  2. Hello; Is there any other way to supply the body with the required amount of iron besides taking Supplement? I experienced Iron deficiency throughout my teenage years. 

    Some food contains enough nutrients for the body, including Iron, I think if one knows the nutrients in each food, it will be easy to avoid taking supplements for any given deficiency.


    • Hello DorcasW,

      Yes absolutely I agree that we can usually get enough iron from your food. If you follow my link to my preveious article (…) which speaks of iron function, I discuss which foods contain iron and what types of iron.

      Hope this can help!


  3. Hi Cynthia,

    I really enjoyed your article. It was so easy to ready, full of valuable information and advice. I didn’t know that Iron supplements contain different types of iron formulations or that Iron Polysaccharide is dangerous for children.

    It is very important how you emphasised that these vitamins should not be taken without being prescribed or recommended by your doctors. I know many people that just take supplements.

    Thank you for your article.

    Kind regards,

    • Hello Yoana,

      Thank you so very much for taking the time to not only read my article, but also to share your comments. I am just starting my site and therefore, comments from my readers are really valuable to me. I want to make sure that the information I gather and share is useful and clear. Based on your comment, it was! So thank you:)

      Yes it is very scary how children can be fatally hurt by these supplements due to the high level of iron in polysaccharides.

      Please feel free to share this article to those you know who “just take supplements” because supplements are not regulated as are medications. It is important to realize that there are potential consequences.

      Take care and thank you:)

  4. Hi Cynthia,

    Very interesting article! I think iron deficiency is a common problem, but sometimes people experiment too much with supplements. Often it turns out well, but it can also go wrong, as you mentioned side effects like anemia.
    You really do offer a clear framework with enough arguments pro and contra. The products are compared with the necessary details which makes your article adequately substantiated. I would also go for the Feosol! 😉


    • Hello Catherine,

      I really do appreciate the feedback about my article. I am just starting my site so I can really use any constructive criticism to increase the value of my posts.

      I am glad to hear that the content was useful and well explained. I think Feosol is the way to go, but everyone is different:)

      Thank you again and I hope to see you back here again soon.


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