Grim- sorry! Iron pills and constipation

I used to take a multivitamin with iron in it, but recently swapped to ones without added iron, so I take an extra iron pill. I am finding myself quite badly constipated- have heard this can be an effect.
Does anyone have any suggestions/advice. I don't want to stop iron supplementation as I am borderline anaemic. Although I eat lots of green veg I don't eat much red meat.


  • RedheadRedhead ✭✭✭
    How are your fibre levels? Prunes and dried apricots will shift most things (sorry to be indelicate) or what about a probiotic?

    I expect V-rap will have some good medical suggestions for this one.
  • Lots of water will help as well, especially if you're increasing the fibre levels. Fibre needs water to help it do its stuff.


  • If the multivitamin with added iron suited you OK, why not go back to taking that? Most multivit+iron combinations contain about 15mg of iron, which most people's guts can handle (and which is enough to prevent, but not treat, anaemia if you're not losing a lot of blood from anywhere), whereas free-standing iron pills such as ferrous sulphate and ferrous fumarate have four or five times as much iron per tablet.

    Extra fruit and veg and extra fluid are well worth a try, as is taking the iron tablet with meals. Make sure it isn't a slow release iron preparation, as the iron needs to be released high up in your gut to be absorbed, not in your colon where it will only make you constipated.

    Red meat isn't the only source of iron - dried fruit, leafy green vegetables, poultry, breakfast cereals, chocolate (can't avoid the stuff today!), red wine and casseroles cooked in iron pots all contain useful amounts.

    If all else fails and you do want to keep taking a high-dose iron supplement, try changing to a different brand. In theory it shouldn't make a difference, but in real life it often helps.

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • Thanks for the advice- my fault for buying cheapo vitamins. I will go back to the shops and get some with multiminerals.
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    I took 3 x 200mg ferrous sulphate tablets a day for 3 months to treat anaemia, and found that thing "got back to normal" after about 4 weeks - I suppose my system got used to them. I do eat a lot of fruit and drink plenty water, so that possibly helped. I now take one every second day (when I remember) as a prevention, with no ill effects (other than the "black" problem, but I won't go there!)
  • A bowl full of fruit and fibre does it for me !
    Keep well hydrated though as fibre needs water to work.
  • I live off Spatone - a natural iron rich mineral water which is easily absorbed - doesn't bind you up / upset the stomach and is virtually impossible to overdose on. I can't tolerate iron in any other form at all.

    You can buy Spatone from Holland & Barrett or Boots (but they're often sold out).
  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭
    Don't know about anyone else but running works for me......
  • I can personally second the advice to shop round different brands. Pre-hysterectomy when I was hugely anaemic I became a connoisseur of iron tablets, my favourite being a brew which had added zinc as well. Alas, the hospital didn't allow me to bring it in, required me to take their own brew, with absolutely disastrous if slightly comic results.

    Running now sorts me out and then some! Didn't run much then.

  • At last someone else who has this problem. I find that if you only take them on week days, it all works by the end of the weekend. This also means I'm not effected during weekend races.
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