Iron

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How does Iron work?

Iron helps red blood cells deliver oxygen from the lungs to cells all over the body. Once the oxygen is delivered, iron then helps red blood cells carry carbon dioxide waste back to the lungs to be exhaled. Iron also plays a role in many important chemical reactions in the body.

Are there safety concerns?

Iron is safe for most people when it is used appropriately. However, it can cause side effects including stomach upset and pain, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Liquid iron supplements may blacken teeth.

High doses of iron are UNSAFE, especially for children. Iron poisoning can cause many serious problems including stomach and intestinal distress, liver failure, dangerously low blood pressure, and death. If you suspect an adult or child has taken more than the recommended amount of iron, call your healthcare professional or the nearest poison control center immediately.

There is some concern that high intake of iron might increase the chance of developing heart disease. Some studies show that people with high intake of iron, especially from food sources such as red meat, are more likely to have heart disease. People with type 2 diabetes might have a greater risk. But this is controversial. Other studies do not show that iron increases the chance of heart disease. It is too soon to tell for sure if iron increases the chance of heart disease.

Do not take iron if:
  • You have stomach or intestinal ulcers.
  • You have intestinal inflammation, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
  • You have a disease, such as thalassemia, which affects a component of blood called hemoglobin.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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