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Iron is a mineral essential for many bodily processes. Some people may decide to take iron supplements to ensure that they get an adequate intake of iron.

A quick look at 8 of the best iron supplements

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

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Best for pregnancy: Care/of iron capsules

Care/of iron capsules isolated over blue background
  • Price: $7
  • Type: capsule
  • Dosage: one capsule per day
  • Volume: 30-day supply
  • Age: 19–50 years
  • Active ingredients: iron and vitamin C

Care/of is a monthly subscription service that provides personalized nutritional supplements based on a customer’s unique health needs and goals.

The company offers an iron supplement in capsule form that contains fermented vitamin C to support iron absorption and prevent digestive discomfort, which may suit pregnant people.

The supplement is vegan, gluten-free, and does not contain GMOs.

The company recommends taking its iron supplement between meals. People should not take it alongside the Calcium Plus supplement.

While the company writes that it is open about the scientific research behind each product and its testing before, during, and after manufacturing, it does not mention if a third-party lab tests its products.

Learn more about the Care/of brand here.

Pros

  • offers 100% of recommended iron Daily Value (DV) for females
  • vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO
  • vitamin C may increase iron absorption

Cons

  • company does not mention third-party testing
  • a subscription service may not be the best option for people who wish to try out new products
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Best allergen-free: Persona iron capsules

persona iron capsules isolated over blue background
  • Price: $8.68
  • Type: capsule
  • Dosage: one capsule per day
  • Volume: 28-day supply
  • Age: 19–50 years
  • Active ingredients: iron and vitamin C

Persona is a nutritional supplement subscription service. It requires customers to complete an online assessment to generate personalized supplement recommendations based on the person’s health needs and goals.

Persona provides a range of supplements, including iron capsules with vitamin C.

The company does not require a subscription and customers only pay for the supplements they order.

Learn more about the Persona brand here.

Pros

  • contains 100% of recommended DV of iron
  • contains vitamin C for better absorption and digestion
  • small capsule size may make them easier to swallow
  • vegan and free from most common allergens, such as lactose, shellfish, and gluten

Cons

  • provides more than the recommended daily amount of iron for males
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Best organic: New Chapter Fermented Iron Complex tablet

New chapter fermented iron
  • Price: around $20
  • Type: tablet
  • Dosage: one tablet per day
  • Volume: 60 tablets
  • Age: 9–13, 51 and over
  • Active ingredients: vitamins E, B12, and C, folate, iron, and zinc

According to the company, this supplement is organic, vegetarian, and kosher. It is free from gluten, dairy, sugar, GMOs, artificial flavors and colors, and synthetic fillers. However, it does contain fermented soy, which makes it unsuitable for people with a soy allergy.

The company also writes that this product uses fermented ingredients, which may help support digestion and improve absorption.

The product has also undergone third-party testing, and New Chapter claims it is compliant with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

The company recommends a person takes one tablet per day.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • the company is FDA- and GMP-compliant
  • vegetarian, kosher, and free of gluten and GMOs

Cons

  • contains soy, so unsuitable for people with a soy allergy
  • some people may find tablets difficult to swallow
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Best vegan: Vitamin Friends Vegan Iron Gummies

Vitamin Friends Kids Vegan Iron Gummies isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: around $20
  • Type: gummy
  • Dosage: one gummy per day
  • Volume: 60 gummies
  • Age: no information available
  • Active ingredients: iron, vitamin A, B3, B5, B6, B12, and C, zinc, and biotin

This supplement comes in gummy form, which may be better for children or people who find it difficult to swallow tablet supplements.

It does not give a person 100% of their daily recommended iron intake. However, this may be suitable for people who experience digestive problems from higher dose iron supplements.

These gummies are vegan, organic, and kosher.

The supplement contains various vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B3, B5, and B12, folic acid, and zinc.

The company recommends a person takes one gummy per day. According to the product labeling, one gummy contains 5 milligrams (mg) of ferrous fumarate, which is 71% of the DV for children ages 1–3 years, and 28% for adults and children ages 4 years and over.

Pros

  • suitable for children
  • third-party tested
  • vegan, organic, kosher, and cGMP
  • contains other vitamins and minerals, which may benefit those looking for multivitamins
  • gummies are chewable, which may be easier for people who find it difficult to swallow tablets

Con

  • does not contain 100% DV of iron
  • contains additional vitamins, which may be unnecessary for some
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Best for athletes: Thorne Iron Bisglycinate capsules

Thorne iron bisglycinate
  • Price: $13
  • Type: capsules
  • Dosage: one capsule a day
  • Volume: 60 capsules
  • Age: 6 and over
  • Active ingredients: 25 mg iron

These capsules may suit athletes, as they have the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification for sport. This certification means the supplements do not contain substances that sporting organizations ban or disallow.

According to the company, this supplement is free from soy, gluten, dairy, and artificial flavors. The company formulated it specifically to prevent digestive discomfort.

Each capsule contains 25 mg of elemental iron. According to the product labeling, 25 mg accounts for 139% of a person’s iron DV. The company recommends a person takes one capsule per day.

Learn about what vitamins and minerals athletes need here.

Pros

  • an affordable option, costing around $0.21 per capsule
  • does not contain any artificial flavors, colors, or sugar
  • gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free
  • holds an NSF certification

Cons

  • does not contain any other vitamins and minerals, which may not suit those looking for a multivitamin
  • some people may find capsules difficult to swallow
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Best for children: Maxi Health Chewable KiddieVite

Maxi Health Chewable Kiddievite isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: around $25
  • Type: chewies
  • Dosage: one chew per day
  • Volume: 90 chewies
  • Age: no information available
  • Active ingredients: 10 mg iron

This bubble gum flavor chewable vitamin provides 10 mg of iron per gummy. According to the product labeling, this accounts for 56% of a person’s DV based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

The company states that these vitamins are for children. They contain a wide range of additional vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, folate, calcium, and magnesium.

People should take one chew per day.

Pros

  • affordable and offers a 3-month supply
  • includes a range of vitamins and minerals
  • children may be more likely to consume chewable vitamins
  • cGMP and kosher

Cons

  • not suitable for vegans or vegetarians as they contain fish gelatin
  • contains milk and wheat
  • contains artificial flavors
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Best for anemia: Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid

Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid isolated on a blue backrgound.
  • Price: around $36
  • Type: liquid
  • Dosage: 1 teaspoon per day
  • Volume: 4.1 fl oz
  • Age: no information available
  • Active ingredients: iron ferric pyrophosphate

This liquid iron includes a proprietary blend of cranberry and wild blueberry extract that the company claims provides antioxidants.

The company also writes that the form of iron in this supplement, ferric pyrophosphate, has a high bioavailability. High bioavailability means that the body can easily absorb it. This may suit people with anemia who have an iron deficiency and require a reliable source of iron.

The company claims this product is GMO- and gluten-free. It recommends that a person have 1 teaspoon — 5 mL — of this iron liquid daily.

According to the product labeling, this will provide 15 mg of iron, accounting for 83% of a person’s DV.

Pros

  • may be easier to swallow than capsules as it is a liquid
  • free from dairy and soy
  • suitable for vegetarians
  • gluten- and GMO-free

Cons

  • contains maltodextrin, which may not be safe for people with diabetes
  • some people may find it more inconvenient to measure out a dose rather than take one capsule or tablet
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Best for sensitive stomachs: Nature’s Bounty Gentle Iron

Nature's Bounty Gentle Iron isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: around $20
  • Type: capsules
  • Dosage: one capsule a day
  • Volume: 90 capsules
  • Age: adults
  • Active ingredients: 28 mg iron

Nature’s Bounty writes that this iron supplement is gentle on the stomach. This supplement may suit people who experience digestive discomfort after taking iron supplements.

According to the company, this supplement is suitable for adults. Each capsule contains 28 mg of ferrous bisglycinate. The product labeling states this accounts for 156% of a person’s DV.

Each capsule also contains vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin B12.

The company writes that its products are tested throughout the manufacturing process for purity and potency. However, Nature’s Bounty does not use third-party labs to test its products. The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has audited its laboratories.

The company recommends a person takes one capsule per day with a meal.

Pros

  • reportedly gentle on the stomach
  • offers a 3-month supply
  • the company states it uses labs audited by USP

Cons

  • only provides a low dose of iron
  • not suitable for vegetarians
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The following table compares the supplements in this article on price, ingredients, and more.

PriceTypeDosage and DVVolumeActive ingredients
Care/of$7capsule• one capsule per day
• 18 mg, 100% DV
30-day supply• iron
• vitamin C
Persona$8.68capsule• one capsule per day
• 18 mg, 100% DV
28-day supply• iron
• vitamin C
New
Chapter
around $20tablet• one tablet per day
• 9 mg, 50% DV
60 tablets• vitamin E
• vitamin B12
• vitamin C
• folate
• iron
• zinc
Vitamin
Friends
around $20gummy• one gummy per day
• 5 mg, 28% DV
60 gummies• iron
• vitamin A
• vitamin B3
• vitamin B5
• vitamin B6
• vitamin B12
• vitamin C
• zinc
• biotin
Thorne$13capsules• one capsule per day
• 25 mg, 139% DV
60 capsulesiron
Maxi
Health
around $25chewies• one chew per day
• 10 mg, 56% DV
90 chewies• iron
• vitamin A
• B vitamins
• vitamin B12
• vitamin C
• vitamin D
• vitamin E
• folate
Pure
Encapsulations
around $36liquid• one teaspoon per day
• 25 mg, 83% DV
4.1 fl oziron ferric
pyro-
phosphate
Nature’s
Bounty
around $20capsules• one capsule per day
• 28 mg, 156% DV
90 capsulesiron

Iron supplements are often available in the form of a tablet or capsules. Some individuals may prefer to use liquid or gummy supplements. People should consider which form would suit their needs best.

Look for reputable brands with third-party certification or testing. Choose products from companies that are transparent about their ingredients and product dosages.

Some iron supplements include other vitamins and minerals, which may suit people who do not take many other supplements. For example, iron supplements that contain vitamin C may enable better absorption.

Some people may experience digestive discomfort when taking iron supplements. Iron supplements that are fermented or designed to aid digestion may help ease or prevent this discomfort.

The human body cannot make iron on its own. For this reason, people must obtain the mineral through their diet. When iron makes its way into the body through a person’s diet, it is known as dietary iron.

Research has identified two primary forms of dietary iron. The first is nonheme iron, which is present in plant- and animal-derived foods. The second form is heme iron, which is only present in foods derived from animals.

Heme iron has higher bioavailability, and the body can absorb it more easily. Nonheme iron is the most important dietary source of iron for vegans and vegetarians. However, it has a lower bioavailability, and more factors affect its absorption.

Learn more about iron here.

Around 65% of the iron in a person’s body becomes a part of hemoglobin molecules. These molecules are present in the red blood cells, which carry oxygen from a person’s lungs toward other organs.

Iron also plays a role in energy production in the body. It carries oxygen to the muscles and brain and is important for mental and physical performance. Low iron levels may result in a lack of focus, irritability, and reduced stamina.

Iron is an essential element of various metabolic processes in the human body, including electron transport and DNA synthesis.

Learn more about iron here.

A person should follow a doctor’s instructions or the product label for when and how often to take iron supplements. Typically, it is best to take them on an empty stomach and with water, around 1–2 hours before a meal.

The body can absorb iron more easily when it has enough vitamin C. Therefore, some people may wish to take vitamin C supplements or consume orange juice alongside their iron supplements.

Generally, however, people should avoid taking iron supplements with beverages such as coffee, tea, or milk, as they may interfere with iron absorption.

People should also avoid taking calcium supplements and antacids with iron supplements, as they too can inhibit the body’s absorption of the mineral.

It is unlikely that taking iron supplements will lead to any unwanted health effects unless a person is ingesting more than the recommended DV of iron.

Some people’s bodies may initially have difficulty dealing with the changes in dietary iron. When this occurs, a person may experience:

It is also possible for an individual to have too much dietary iron. This can lead to conditions such as iron overload disorder and iron poisoning. Anyone who suspects that they may have either condition should seek medical care.

Some symptoms of iron toxicity include:

Healthcare professionals will only recommend supplemental iron if a person has low iron levels. People with regular iron levels should not take supplemental iron.

If a person thinks they may have iron deficiency or is at risk of developing it, they should contact a doctor.

Healthcare professionals tend to recommend iron supplements to restore healthy iron levels.

They will also recommend that people get extra iron during pregnancy. This is due to increased dietary needs. Most prenatal vitamins contain extra iron.

The body requires large amounts of iron during pregnancy, and deficiencies may increase the risk of maternal and infant mortality, low birth weight, and preterm labor.

Researchers have found that iron supplements can help improve pregnancy outcomes for pregnant people with anemia or iron deficiency.

Learn about the best prenatal vitamins here.

Supplements may also positively affect athletic performance in those who have iron deficiency.

However, a 2018 review found that only half of the studies the researchers looked at found a difference in performance levels when supplementing for athletes with iron deficiency.

However, when taking iron supplements, it is important to understand the safe and recommended dosages. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend the following daily amounts of iron:

AgeMaleFemaleDuring pregnancyDuring lactation
0–6 months0.27 mg*0.27 mg*
7–12 months11 mg11 mg
1–3 years7 mg7 mg
4–8 years10 mg10 mg
9–13 years8 mg8 mg
14–18 years11 mg15 mg27 mg10 mg
19–50 years8 mg18 mg27 mg9 mg
51+ years8 mg8 mg

*Adequate intake

Iron deficiency occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing or retaining enough iron.

According to a 2022 article, the rate of iron deficiency in the United States is around 1% in males under 50 and 10% in women of childbearing age. In children ages 12–36 months, the rate of iron deficiency is around 9%.

Iron deficiency can sometimes cause anemia, which is a condition where the body does not produce enough red blood cells.

Anemia is a common condition, affecting around one-third of the global population. Roughly 50% of these cases are due to iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency can have different causes, such as:

  • Insufficient intake of dietary iron: Some people do not get enough dietary iron. This can happen if they follow a vegan or vegetarian diet and do not take an iron supplement. These diets can be low in heme iron.
  • Blood loss: Since much of the body’s iron is present in the red blood cells, blood loss can lead to iron deficiency. Blood loss may occur due to menstruation or conditions such as stomach ulcers and colon cancer.
  • Iron malabsorption: This occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing the dietary iron that it needs. This can result from conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and procedures such as gastrointestinal surgery.
  • Growth: The body needs iron to aid oxygen transportation. For this reason, people in periods of growth will require more iron because their bodies will require more oxygen. This makes young children and pregnant people more at risk of iron deficiency.
  • Other conditions: Some health conditions, such as obesity, kidney failure, cancer, and congestive heart failure, may also lead to iron deficiency.

Some symptoms of iron deficiency include:

People who suspect they have iron deficiency anemia should contact a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Learn more about iron deficiency here.

Some people may wish to increase their dietary iron intake without taking supplements. They can add several iron-rich foods to their diets, such as:

Learn about the best foods and meal plan for iron deficiency anemia here.

The best form of iron supplement to take will depend on a person’s needs. Popular options include ferric sulfate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous sulfate, and ferric citrate. Ferrous bisglycinate is used in iron supplements that aim to be gentler on the stomach.

A person can research how easily the body can absorb the different types of iron supplements, the dose each type provides, and whether they are known to produce side effects.

A person should talk with a doctor to determine which form of iron supplement they should take.

A person can increase their iron levels by eating foods rich in iron.

Iron-rich foods can include red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood. Beans and dark green leafy vegetables are also good sources of iron. Eating foods that are rich in vitamin C may also help increase the absorption of iron.

If a person has a condition that affects how they can absorb nutrients from their food, they should speak to a doctor to find out how to increase their iron levels.

People with iron deficiency anemia should work with a doctor to find the right iron supplement. Generally, the best iron supplement for iron deficiency will meet the recommended DV percentage of iron for the person’s sex and age, be easy to take and absorb, and produce minimal side effects.

People who are low on iron may need higher doses than the average person.

Certain iron sources may have higher bioavailability and are therefore easier for the body to absorb. For example, heme iron from meat and poultry has high bioavailability.

In iron supplements, ferrous sulfate iron is easily absorbed by the body.

Iron supplements that contain vitamin C may enable better absorption.

Iron is a mineral that is essential for many bodily processes. People who find it difficult to get enough iron from their diet may consider taking iron supplements. This may help prevent iron deficiency anemia.

Anyone considering taking iron supplements should seek the advice of a doctor first.