Anemia is a common health problem amongst women in India. Iron tablets is the most common medicine prescribed medicine for this. All pregnant women are given a tablet of iron.
Iron tablets can be very effective but only if they are taken correctly.

Here are ten things you must know about iron intake.

  1.  Iron is best absorbed when taken on empty stomach. But it can cause cramps, acidity, vomiting when taken on empty stomach. That is why we advice to take iron tablet be taken after small quantity of food especially when they are not tolerated on empty stomach.
  2. Indian meal is full of phytates and phosphates. These ingredients hamper iron absorption. So never take iron immediately food. You may take it after some time.
  3. It is a common practice in India to take medicines with milk. This is a big “NO- NO”. It does not allow iron absorption.
  4. Conventional iron tablets should not be taken with calcium as this may reduce the absorption. However there are few iron salts which can be taken with calcium.
  5. Vitamin C improves iron absorption. It is a good idea to take iron with lime juice or orange juice.
  6. Common side effects of iron are constipation, dark stools, diarrhoea, nausea.
  7. It is commonly believed that beet root, carrot are best sources of iron. This is not true. Green leafy vegetables, walnuts, black grapes, dates are good vegetarian sources of iron.
  8. Haem Iron, the iron from Non vegetarian source is better absorbed in the body as compared to vegetarian sources.
  9. iron syrups may stain the teeth dark.
  10. Iron comes in the form of various salts. If you do not tolerate one type of salt discuss with your doctor and get it changed. But take the iron tablet and prevent anemia. Be healthy!

By Dr Nikhil Datar
Consultant Gynaecologist & Medical Director Cloudnine Hospital
Consultant Gynaecologist Lifewave Hospital & Yashada Hospital

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