women getting an iv treatment and a nurse setting them up

What Helps Your Body Absorb Iron?

women getting an iv treatment and a nurse setting them up

Iron is a vital mineral crucial for the proper functioning of the body. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that iron is an integral part of making hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that moves oxygen around the body.

Iron is necessary for cellular respiration and the making of DNA. However, despite its importance, iron deficiency remains a global health concern. Iron deficiency anemia can cause tiredness, weakness, and shortness of breath and can also severely worsen the immune system, leading to an increased risk of infections.

Knowing how the body absorbs iron and what can change how well it does is essential. Let us explore the factors that can help the body absorb iron more effectively.

Factors that affect iron absorption

Iron is a vital mineral required for the function and operation of your body. However, not all the iron we consume is fully absorbed by our bodies. What helps absorb iron? Several factors can affect iron absorption. These factors have been separated into two classes: dietary and non-dietary factors.

Dietary factors

Where is iron absorbed? Absorption occurs within the duodenum and proximal jejunum, so what you consume plays a significant factor.

Does vitamin c help absorb iron?

As it turns out, yes. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that can help the body absorb iron. Vitamin C can increase the absorption of non-heme iron, which is plentiful in plant-based foods. Foods containing significant sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and peppers.

Other minerals can also affect iron absorption.

For example, calcium and zinc can make it harder for the body to absorb iron, while copper can make it easier. Because of this, we must ensure we get enough of these minerals in our food. Meat, poultry, and fish are high in heme iron, which is found in animal-based foods and is the iron form more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron.

Age, gender, and health conditions can also impact iron absorption.

For example, infants, children, and adolescents need more iron than adults because their bodies are still growing and developing. Similarly, pregnant or breastfeeding women need more iron to support their growing fetus or to produce breast milk.

Gender can also affect iron absorption.

Women are at a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia because they lose iron during menstruation. In contrast, men are less likely to develop iron deficiency anemia.

Certain health conditions can also affect iron absorption.

For example, people with celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or other digestive problems may have trouble absorbing iron from their food. Also, people who have had bariatric surgery may be able to absorb less iron and other nutrients.

woman holding her stomach

Many factors can affect iron absorption, including dietary and non-dietary factors. By understanding these factors, individuals can ensure they get enough iron to meet their body’s needs. Consuming a balanced diet that includes heme iron, non-heme iron, and vitamin C, and monitoring for any health conditions that may affect iron absorption can help maintain proper iron levels in the body.

Eating iron-rich foods

One of the easiest ways to increase iron levels is by incorporating iron-rich foods into the diet. Animal-based foods such as red meat, poultry, and fish are high in heme iron, which are easily absorbed by the body.

Plant-based foods such as beans, lentils, tofu, and spinach are rich in non-heme iron, which is not as easily absorbed by the body.

spinach on a toast

However, consuming these foods in combination with vitamin C aids the body in absorbing non-heme iron.

Combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C

Vitamin C can help enhance iron absorption in the body. Consuming vitamin C-rich foods like bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries can improve the absorption of non-heme iron. For example, squeezing lemon juice on spinach or adding tomato sauce to lentil soup can help boost the amount of iron absorbed by the body.

A bowl full of fresh spinach rich in iron.

Taking iron supplements

In some cases, individuals with low iron levels may need to increase their iron intake through supplements. These come in various forms, such as ferrous sulfate and ferrous fumarate.

Ideal forms of iron regarding supplements can vary depending on various factors. Following the recommended dosage recommendations is essential, as excessive iron intake can be harmful.

vial filled with red pills

Individuals should consult with their healthcare provider before taking iron supplements.

Avoiding certain foods and drinks

One of the best ways to absorb iron is by paying attention to your consumption. Some foods and drinks can make it hard for the body to absorb iron, so they should be avoided or eaten in moderation.

For example, tea and coffee contain binding compounds that can reduce absorption.

glass of milk on a bench in the park

Yogurt, milk, and cheese are calcium-rich foods that inhibit iron absorption and should not be featured alongside iron-rich foods.

The good news is that simple dietary and lifestyle changes can improve low iron levels. People can get more iron and raise their iron levels by eating iron-rich foods, foods high in vitamin C, and avoiding certain foods and drinks. In some cases, iron supplements may be necessary and should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Final thoughts

Iron is a crucial mineral that plays a vital role in the body, and low iron levels can lead to a wide range of health issues. However, there are several ways to improve iron levels through dietary and lifestyle changes.

Adding iron-rich foods to your diet, eating foods high in vitamin C, and staying away from certain foods and drinks can help you absorb iron better and have more iron in your body. Iron supplements may also be necessary for some situations, but you should talk to a doctor before taking them.

It is important to remember that too much iron can harm you, and you should only take iron supplements if your doctor recommends them. Maintaining healthy iron levels is crucial for overall health and well-being. Incorporating iron-rich foods, consuming foods high in vitamin C, and avoiding certain foods and drinks can help improve iron absorption.

At-Home Iron Infusion With Drip Hydration

Iron IV therapy is an efficient and convenient way to increase your iron levels quickly and effectively. With Drip Hydration's at-home treatment option, our team will come to your location to administer the IV, whether that be your home or office. You will be able to relax and carry on with your daily activities, while we take care of the rest.

Contact Drip Hydration today and schedule your appointment, our experienced team is here to help you achieve optimal iron levels and improve your overall health.

Iron IV  Infusion - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Iron infusion?

Iron IV Infusion is a therapy where an enriched saline bag with iron and other vitamins is intravenously administered.

Why would a patient need an iron infusion?

Patients typically need an iron infusion to correct low blood iron levels, although infusions may also be given in advance of a medical procedure. There are many potential reasons a patient might have low blood iron, including illness, certain medical conditions, side effects from other treatments, inability to absorb adequate iron from diet or supplements, and more.

How to prepare for an iron infusion

The most significant preparation required for an iron infusion is to ensure you set aside enough time for treatment. Unlike some procedures, there is no need to fast prior to this procedure.

  • Iron infusions may take 3 or 4 hours, so bring a book, a game, music or podcasts, a computer, or sit near your TV so you can stay occupied during treatment.
  • Eat breakfast, stay hydrated, and take your medication as normal unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may also want to consider having a blanket on hand if you get cold easily.

What happens during an iron infusion?

A nurse will arrive at your location at your appointment time with the necessary equipment for your infusion. They will then administer a test dose via a needle and catheter to ensure that you do not have an allergic reaction to the ingredients in the infusion.

After your test dose, your infusion will begin. This process typically takes several hours. Following your infusion, you can resume activities as normal unless otherwise instructed.

How long does an iron infusion take?

An iron infusion typically takes 3 – 4 hours. Many patients require multiple infusions over time to correct their iron levels. Your doctor will determine the best course of treatment for your needs.

What are the side effects of iron infusions?

There are several potential side effects of iron infusions. They are typically mild and resolve on their own shortly after treatment.

  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Temporary changes in your taste
  • Itchiness and rash
  • Increased or decreased blood pressure
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Redness, swelling, or a burning sensation at the injection site

In addition to these, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to ingredients in the infusion. However, your test dose will help prevent this issue.

Which iron infusion is safest?

The safest iron infusion is administered by a trained and licensed medical professional. Before your treatment, they will administer a test dose to ensure you do not have an allergic reaction to any ingredients in the infusion.

Additionally, safe IV providers will store and handle ingredients and equipment properly to help prevent infections and other complications.

Can you get an iron infusion during pregnancy?

Yes. A doctor may order an iron IV infusion for pregnant women if necessary, typically during the second or third trimester.

What are the risks involved with iron infusion?

Iron infusions are a safe procedure when administered by a licensed and trained healthcare professional. However, iron infusions are a minimally invasive procedure that comes with some potential risks.

Risks of IV treatment in general include:

  • Air embolism
  • Blood clots
  • Vein damage
  • Chance of infection at the injection site

In addition to the risks associated with IV treatments, iron infusions may also cause an allergic reaction due to ingredient(s) in the treatment.

Who administers the therapy?

One of our licensed clinicians will perform the Iron IV Therapy.

How quickly does an iron infusion work?

It depends on the patient’s circumstances. Some people feel better shortly after their first infusion. Those who need multiple infusions to correct low iron levels may start feeling better after a week or more.

How long will an iron infusion last?

The iron infusion itself typically takes about three hours to administer. Following treatment, an infusion may last days, weeks, or months depending on individual circumstances.

Are iron infusions painful?

Iron infusions are a largely painless medical procedure. Patients may experience a brief pinching sensation as the needle is inserted into the vein. Some patients report temporary side effects such as headaches and nausea following treatment.

How many times do I need an iron infusion?

The exact number of infusions will depend on your situation. Your doctor will assess your needs and develop a treatment plan to effectively correct low iron levels.

Do iron infusions make you gain weight?

No, iron infusions do not make you gain weight. One study found that infusions actually caused participants to lose weight.

What is the average cost of an iron infusion?

Iron infusions may cost anywhere between $400 to $4000. The exact cost will depend on variables such as the type of iron used, how many infusions you need, where you get treatment, whether your insurance covers treatments, and other factors.

Is an iron infusion better than a blood transfusion?

Both an iron infusion and blood transfusion aim to restore low iron levels, whether due to a medical condition, severe injury, in preparation for surgery, or other reasons. Both methods are effective ways to restore low iron levels.

  • A blood transfusion delivers new, donated blood into your body
  • An iron infusion contains only iron and saline solution

Your doctor can help determine which is best for your needs.

What iron level requires an iron infusion?

This depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of anemia you have, whether or not you are pregnant, and other factors.

If you notice symptoms of low iron, it’s important to visit a doctor. They will be able to determine whether an iron infusion is right for you.

Can you feel worse after an iron infusion?

There are some minor side effects that can occur during or after an iron infusion, such as headaches, nausea, and muscle aches. However, these are temporary and resolve quickly after treatment, after which you should feel the benefits of normal iron levels.