The Best Iron Supplements of 2024

The Best Iron Supplements of 2024

Not getting enough iron can leave you feeling tired, cold, and short of breath, among other symptoms. While it’s possible to get enough iron through your diet, some people may have a harder time getting enough iron, such as athletes, pregnant women, and those who experience heavy bleeding during menstruation. Lauren O’Connor, MS, RDN, owner of Nutri Savvy Health, explains that some medical conditions like cancer can contribute to iron deficiency, as well as taking certain medications that can reduce iron absorption, like those used to treat acid reflux (GERD).  Also, anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet may not have a harder time getting enough iron through food. 

It’s important to know you can get too much iron from supplements, and they can interact with some medications. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults for iron is 45 milligrams (mg) per day, and taking iron supplements over 25 mg per day may lower zinc absorption. Therefore, it’s important to discuss taking an iron supplement with a healthcare professional and getting the right dose for your needs.

To choose the best iron supplements, our team of registered dietitians researched dozens of supplements and considered recommendations from other registered dietitians who work with populations that experience deficiency. When choosing the best supplement for you, you’ll want to consider the type of iron, form (capsule, liquid, or chewable), dose, and third-party testing.

Thorne Iron Bisglycinate

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Amazon


Why We Like It

Thorne’s Iron Bisglycinate is our top choice for nearly anyone who is iron deficient. Iron bisglycinate is not only a highly absorbable form of iron, it’s also gentler on the stomach and well tolerated by most people. Research shows that it may be more effective than other forms of iron at raising blood iron levels. We also like that it’s NSF Certified for Sport, meaning it is tested for ingredient purity and potency, as well as for substances banned for sport, making it a good choice for athletes.

This supplement contains 25 milligrams of iron (139% Daily Value), which may be more than some people need, but it’s well below the tolerable upper limit, so it’s safe for most people. This amount has been shown to be effective for treating pregnant women with iron deficiency during pregnancy.

We also like that this supplement only contains iron, so you don’t need to worry about getting additional nutrients you don’t need. It’s also gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. 

It’s Worth Noting

If you don’t have iron deficiency, this choice may be more iron than you need, especially if you get some iron-rich foods in your diet.

Product Details:

  • Type: Iron bisglycinate
  • Form: capsule
  • Serving Size: 1 capsule 
  • Iron per Serving: 25mg
  • Third-Party Tested: Yes, NSF Certified for Sport

Nature Made Iron 65 mg Tablets

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Amazon


Why We Like It

Nature Made is a budget-friendly, well-trusted brand. This iron supplement is USP-verified, a third-party organization that tests for ingredient accuracy. We like that it only contains iron, so you don’t have to worry about getting unnecessary nutrients if all you need is iron. 

Nature Made Iron contains 65mg of ferrous sulfate (361% Daily Value), which is above the tolerable upper intake level (UL). However, the absorption rate from ferrous sulfate is low, so research suggests taking doses of at least 60mg to meet your needs. Especially since this is above the UL, we recommend consulting a healthcare professional before taking it.

It’s Worth Noting

The form of iron in this supplement, ferrous sulfate, is known to be a little harder on the stomach and may cause gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation and nausea, among others. But not everyone experiences these side effects. One study suggests pregnant women are particularly sensitive to this form, so it may not be the best choice during pregnancy. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Ferrous sulfate
  • Form: Tablet
  • Serving Size: 1 tablet 
  • Iron per Serving: 65 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: Yes, USP

Centrum Men

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Walmart


Why We Like It

Men have lower iron needs than women, and most men can meet their iron needs, 8 mg per day, through their diet. This is why iron is excluded from some men’s multivitamins. However, if you’re looking for a men’s multivitamin with iron, we like Centrum Men. Centrum is a trusted brand that does internal testing for ingredient accuracy.

Each tablet has 8mg of iron, and it also has B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, and other minerals like magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, and manganese. The serving size is just one tablet, and it’s recommended to take with food.

It’s Worth Noting

The form of iron in this multi is ferrous fumarate which can have a higher risk of GI side effects. However, taking this with a meal should help negate any unpleasant side effects. Also note this multi has a longer list of ingredients with a few somewhat controversial ingredients like artificial food colors and preservatives.

Product Details:

  • Type: Ferrous fumarate
  • Form: tablet
  • Serving Size: 1 tablet with food
  • Iron per Serving: 8 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: No

Thorne Research Basic Prenatal

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Amazon


Why We Like It

Thorne Prenatal is a great cover-your-bases multivitamin with iron, suitable for pregnant people and menstruating women, both of which have higher iron needs. Many multivitamins don’t contain iron because not everyone needs extra iron, and it can compete with calcium absorption and can cause gastrointestinal side effects. So, iron is often omitted in multivitamins.  

Thorne Prenatal is made with the active form of key nutrients, including folate, B vitamins, and vitamin A, and important minerals like magnesium, another common nutrient deficiency. It contains 45 mg of iron bisglycinate, which can effectively treat anemia in pregnant and non-pregnant adults and is a well-tolerated form of iron. This multi may be helpful for breastfeeding women who have higher nutrient needs, especially in the early months postpartum when you need to replete iron losses from pregnancy and childbirth. 

Thorne is a well-trusted brand that completes extensive quality testing to ensure that what you see on the label is in each supplement and nothing more.

It’s Worth Noting

This complete multivitamin is designed for menstruating women and, more specifically, for pregnant people with low levels of iron. The iron level is at the UL of 45 mg, so be sure a healthcare professional knows you are taking this amount. Postmenopausal women have lower iron needs, so this pick is higher than postmenopausal women need

Product Details:

  • Type: Iron bisglycinate
  • Form: Capsule
  • Serving Size: 3 capsules
  • Iron per Serving: 45 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: Yes

FullWell Iron Bump

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FullWell


Why We Like It

FullWell Iron Bump is made specifically for pregnant women, and developed by a registered dietitian who specializes in pregnancy and fertility. Studies show that up to 20 percent of pregnant women have iron deficiency anemia (and many more may be low in iron without anemia). This supplement contains 25mg of iron bisglycinate (139% Daily Value), a form that’s typically well tolerated and has been shown to improve blood iron and treat anemia in pregnant women.  

It also contains vitamin C, which may help with iron absorption (though most people get enough vitamin C through diet). This supplement can be a helpful boost on top of a prenatal vitamin, especially if you have iron deficiency. A healthcare professional can help you determine if an extra iron supplement is needed for you during pregnancy in addition to a prenatal vitamin.

We like that FullWell has extensive third-party testing of all of their supplements to ensure there are no harmful contaminants and that the dose on the label is what’s in the capsule. It’s also gluten-free and free of the top eight allergens and corn, making it a good option for anyone with food allergies. 

It’s Worth Noting

This supplement contains a proprietary blend of herbs and vegetable root powder, some of which may interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for all. We recommend checking with your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe for you.

Product Details:

  • Type: Ferrous bisglycinate
  • Form: Capsule
  • Serving Size: 1 capsule 
  • Iron per Serving: 25 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: Yes

Mary Ruth's Liquid Iron

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Mary Ruth’s


Why We Like It

If your child doesn’t eat many iron-rich foods, especially red meat, they may benefit from an iron supplement. Babies, toddlers, and younger children, as well as teenage girls, are at higher risk for deficiency.  A healthcare provider will likely screen for iron deficiency anemia at their annual visit, but it’s always good to ask for testing iron levels if you’re concerned about iron intake. 

Mary Ruth’s Liquid Iron is an excellent option for kids because it comes in a liquid form, making it easy to take with flexible dosing. It can be taken straight from a spoon, or you can add it to a beverage or food like applesauce if they aren’t willing to drink it. It’s also easy to adjust the dose based on your child’s needs. One teaspoon contains six milligrams of iron bisglycinate, which is 33 percent daily value for children ages four to thirteen, but you can serve more as needed depending on their diet and iron status. 

We also like that iron is the only mineral in this supplement, so you’re not serving your kid additional supplements they may not need. Plus, it’s third-party tested and clean label project verified.  It’s also vegan and gluten-free.

It’s Worth Noting

It’s sweetened with Reb-A (Stevia), which can have a strong artificially sweet taste. Also, liquid supplements can be harder to measure out, requiring careful measuring when dosing.

Product Details:

  • Type: Iron bisglycinate
  • Form: Liquid
  • Serving Size: 1 tsp
  • Iron per Serving: 6 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: Yes

NOW Foods Iron Bisglycinate

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NOW Foods


Why We Like It

NOW Foods Iron Bisglycinate is a well-tolerated, budget-friendly supplement that’s suitable for vegans and vegetarians. While most supplemental forms of iron are vegan-friendly, sometimes encapsulated supplements can contain animal-based gelatin, but these are made with plant-based cellulose. Each capsule contains 18 milligrams of iron bisglycinate, which is the recommended amount for women ages 19-51 years.

Vegans and vegetarians are at higher risk for iron deficiency since plant-based iron is not absorbed by the body as well. It’s recommended that vegans and vegetarians get 1.8x the amount of iron (from plant sources) than meat eaters, but supplements can be an easy way for you to meet your needs if you’re not getting enough through diet. 

It’s Worth Noting

While this does provide 100% Daily Value for iron, it may not be enough for some people with moderate to severe iron deficiency. NOW also offers the same supplement with 36 mg for those who need more. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Iron bisglycinate
  • Form: Capsule
  • Serving Size: 1 capsule  
  • Iron per Serving: 18 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: Yes

Pure Encapsulations Iron-C

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Pure Encapsulations


Why We Like It

If you have a mild iron deficiency without anemia or don’t eat many iron-rich foods, you may not need as high a dose as some of the supplements out there. That’s why we like Pure Encapsulations Iron-C, which contains 15 milligrams of iron from a blend of iron glycinate and iron aspartate. 

The lower dose is also less likely to cause digestive symptoms for anyone with a sensitive stomach. This supplement is also gluten-free and free from major allergens. Pure Encapsulations is a well-trusted quality supplement brand, and each product undergoes extensive quality testing to ensure potency and purity.

It’s Worth Noting

It also contains vitamin C, which was once thought to enhance absorption. While this is true with plant-based food sources of iron, emerging research suggests it doesn’t offer much benefit in the absorption of supplemental iron. However, unless you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, vitamin C is likely safe for you. Also, while Pure Encapsulations does do extensive internal testing, it does not have third-party testing certificates. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Iron glycinate and aspartate
  • Form: Capsule
  • Serving Size: 1 capsule 
  • Iron per Serving: 15 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: No

NovaFerrum Yay Chewable Iron Supplement

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Amazon


Why We Like It

If you don’t swallow pills easily, NovaFerrum Yay Chewable Iron is a good option to help you meet your iron needs. One chewable tablet contains 18 milligrams of iron as a polysaccharide iron complex, an absorbable form of iron that is also gentle on the stomach. They are orange flavored, have zero added sugar, and also provide 33% Daily Value of vitamin C.

These chewable tablets are designed for adults or kids over 4 years old. NovaFerrum does third-party testing on their products, and the polysaccharide iron complex has clinical studies that verify this form to be well tolerated.

Each bottle is a three-month supply which is convenient, and they are gluten-free, vegan, Kosher, and have no synthetic colors.

It’s Worth Noting

This amount may not be enough to correct iron deficiency. Before giving to a child, consult a healthcare professional first, and be sure to store this supplement out of reach of children.

Product Details:

  • Type: polysaccharide iron complex
  • Form: Chewable tablet
  • Serving Size: 1 tablet 
  • Iron per Serving: 18 mg
  • Third-Party Tested: Yes

Iron supplements are helpful if you don’t get enough through your diet, have higher iron needs, such as athletes or pregnant people, or have a medical condition that decreases iron absorption. 

People who are at risk for iron deficiency include: 

  • Women with heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Pregnant people
  • Athletes, especially endurance athletes
  • People with health conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders like GERD, Chron’s, ulcerative colitis, cancer, or heart failure
  • People taking certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors
  • People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet
  • People who donate blood regularly
  • Women in perimenopause 

If you think you might be iron deficient, we recommend asking your healthcare provider to measure both blood iron and ferritin, a measurement of stored iron levels. This will help identify if you have iron deficiency, even if you don’t have anemia. You may experience symptoms of iron deficiency even if you’re not anemic, and supplements can help correct your levels and improve symptoms. 

Taking iron supplements is not beneficial if you get adequate iron from your diet and don’t have iron deficiency. Over-supplementation of iron can be harmful, so only take it as needed or as directed by a healthcare professional.

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here.  

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent third-party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab.com.

It’s important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend and gives more details on what we specifically look for in supplements.

To identify what to look for and how iron supplements should be used, we interviewed the following registered dietitians. 

The main types of iron found in supplements are ferrous fumarate, glycinate, gluconate, sulfate, and citrate. Emerging research suggests that iron bisglycinate (a ferrous salt) may be one of the best-absorbed forms and is gentler on the stomach than other iron supplements.

Most people tolerate iron supplements well. The most common side effect is gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea or constipation. However, some forms, such as iron bisglycinate, have been shown to be better tolerated and less likely to cause stomach upset. Other forms of iron that are well tolerated include polysaccharide iron complex, chelated iron, and carbonyl iron.

If you notice any stomach issues with an iron supplement, you can try a different type of iron and take an iron supplement with food.

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Many iron supplements also contain vitamin C because vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. While most people can tolerate vitamin C supplements just fine, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider if you take other medications or supplements. You may also choose to take iron along with vitamin C-rich foods or beverages to enhance absorption. 

Some iron supplements also contain other vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, magnesium, and copper. The safety and benefits of these ingredients will vary, so always check with a healthcare provider, especially if you take any medications or other supplements.

Iron can interfere with some medications, such as Levodopa, Levothyroxine, or proton pump inhibitors. If you are on these medications (or any other medications), be sure to talk to a healthcare professional before taking an iron supplement.

The exact amount you need will depend on your age, gender, and how much you get through diet. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for iron is as follows: 

Women: 

  • Ages 19-51: 18mg
  • Age 51+: 8mg 
  • Pregnancy: 27 mg
  • Lactation: 8 mg 

Men 19+: 8mg 

It’s important to note that these are estimates, and women over 51 who have not gone through menopause still have higher needs. Breastfeeding women who are regularly menstruating will need at least 18 milligrams as well. These estimates for postpartum women may be too low. Emerging research suggests that anemia is common in the postpartum period, so if you’re experiencing signs or symptoms of anemia postpartum, have your healthcare provider check your levels. 

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for iron from supplements is 45 milligrams. Regularly taking doses higher than this may lead to gastrointestinal upset or more severe gastric problems in some people. However, if a blood test has confirmed you are iron deficient, a healthcare professional may recommend an iron supplement that is at or exceeds 45 mg per day until your iron blood levels return to normal.

Do I need to take iron supplements if I eat a healthy diet? 

Even if you eat a well-balanced, varied diet that includes many iron-rich foods, some people may still benefit from an iron supplement. If you experience symptoms of iron deficiency, follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, are an endurance athlete, take medications like proton pump inhibitors, or experience heavy menstrual periods, it’s worth having your iron checked to see if your levels are adequate. 

How long should I take iron supplements? 

The amount of time you need to take a supplement will depend on your starting iron levels and your specific health needs, explains  Claire Rifkin, MS, RDN, an NYC-based Women’s Health dietitian. However, most people need to take iron supplements for three to six months in order to achieve optimal levels. 

If you have iron deficiency anemia, you may start to feel better within 14 days of supplementation, says Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, owner of Sound Bites Nutrition. She also notes that pregnant women who need iron supplements should take it for the duration of their pregnancy and may also benefit from continuing postpartum. 

How can I increase my iron intake through my diet? 

Animal foods like beef, pork, poultry, eggs, liver, and seafood provide heme iron, which is the best-absorbed type of iron from food, says Andrews. Plant-based sources such as beans, some whole grains, and lentils can also help you meet your needs, but you may need more of these foods in order to get enough. In fact, vegetarians need 1.8 times the amount of iron (through diet) than meat eaters. You can also get iron from fortified cereals and other grains. 

Andrews recommends adding a source of vitamin C to increase iron absorption. For example, she suggests pairing black beans with tomatoes or peppers. 

Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and experienced writer whose work has been featured in Verywell, EatingWell, Healthline, and more. She helps busy moms learn to eat to feel their best, and is always looking for the best, most convenient options to support her clients’ lifestyles, including by using supplements when needed. She also works with many endurance athletes to support fueling and recovery, including distance runners and triathletes. She regularly recommends iron supplements to her clients who are iron deficient and keeps up with the research on iron supplements.

Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, is a dietitian and nutrition commerce editor who has been writing and editing online content for the past 12 years. She has an MS degree in nutrition and exercise science and keeps a pulse on the latest nutrition trends, research, and guidelines to ensure we are providing the best nutrition recommendations.

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