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Iron supplements – a naturopathic approach

A naturopaths approach to iron deficiency is to encourage people to look at how they eat, how they digest and absorb foods and what other factors may be reducing iron intake. Most people can obtain adequate iron from food.  However this can be altered during the following health conditions

  • Low gastric hydrochloric acid [1]
  • Persistent heavy bleeding
  • Gastric disorders and after surgery
  • In chronic disease
  • Dietary inadequacies
  • Inhibited by supplements or prescribed medications [2]

Buying an iron supplement off the shelf is nothing less than a minefield. Iron tablets come in various forms, some forms may cause intestinal upset such as nausea, bloating and constipation. Self-prescribing with a multivitamin or iron supplement may not help you to reach adequate blood levels to relieve your symptoms.  Supplements can additionally be misleading as often multiple tablets are needed to reach the therapeutic level of iron. Talking to your accredited Naturopath can ensure you get the most from your supplement with lesser side effects and better efficacy and measurement of your progress [3].

The best forms of iron to avoid gastro intestinal upset are chelated, iron polypeptides and carbonyl iron and polysaccharide iron complexes rather than the ferrous or ferric salt forms. Some minerals such as calcium tablets can also blocked the absorption of iron absorption [4]. Quality supplements can be prescribed by a qualified Naturopath and are often naturopathic prescription only. This will ensure you get the best from your iron supplement [3].

Iron deficiency in Australia is very common.  In general females have greater iron needs than males throughout the life cycle.  It has been recorded that two out of every five females 14-50 years of age present with an inadequate intake of iron [3]. Having inadequate iron can affect a person’s immune function, how your brain functions (cognition), learning difficulties, work and exercise performance, temperature regulation and make a person feel fatigued [3].

Food sources of iron are easy to absorb from animal product and harder to absorb from plant foods despite some plant foods containing high levels of iron. Talk to Teresa about how to obtain more iron in your diet from non-animal or animal sources.

There are risks from excessive iron intake, ensure you are guided by a professional to support your needs. *Always check with your health professional to ensure there are no serious health concerns causing iron loss.



  1. Bezwoda W, Charlton R, Bothwell T et al. (1978) The importance of gastric hydrochloric acid in the absorption of nonheme food iron. Translational Research: J Lab and Clin Med 92 (1):108-116.
  2. National Institutes of Health (2018) Iron fact sheet for Health Professionals. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved [Online]
  3. ABS (2015) Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes 2011-12. Iron. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieve [Online]
  4. Hallberg L, Rossander-Hulthen L, Brune M et al. (1993) Inhibition of haem iron absorption in man by calcium. British Journal of Nutrition 69 (2):533-540.