Generally, Americans get their daily requirement of iron from their diet. For those who regularly enjoy red meat, eggs, dark leafy greens, enriched cereals, legumes, or everyone’s favorite—liver and onions—there should not be a need for any type of iron supplement. Additionally, many multivitamins include iron in their formula, which also provides your RDA (recommended dietary allowance). However, iron deficiency can be found in menstruating women as well as children, pregnant women, and people taking drugs that reduce stomach acid.
Iron is necessary for producing red blood cells, and an insufficient amount of iron leads to iron deficiency anemia, which requires supplementation. Typical symptoms of an iron deficiency include excessive tiredness and lack of energy, shortness of breath, learning problems and increased incidence of infection. Should your health care provider determine that you are in need of a supplement, you may want to do some homework and find the one that gives you the most bang for you buck, and provides you with a quality product.
ConsumerLab.com, a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition, has done much of the research for you and recently released a report on the variation in cost of iron supplements, as well as a review on various brands. They found that the cost to get an equivalent dose of iron from supplements varies by more than 100-fold. In fact, a 25 mg dose of iron can cost as little as two cents or over two dollars, depending on the product.
ConsumerLab.com found that all products in their current review contained their listed amounts of iron (unlike their 2008 survey) and did not exceed contamination limits for lead. “It is great that all of the iron supplements in this review were found to be of high quality, but people using iron supplements must choose carefully to be sure they are getting the right form, the right dose, and are not spending more money than necessary,” said Tod Cooperman, MD, President of ConsumerLab.com.
To compare products based on cost, CL calculated the cost of obtaining 25 mg of iron from each sample. The cost to obtain 25 mg of iron ranged from just $0.02 to over $2.00 – a 100-fold difference. For most products, the cost per 25 mg was roughly 15 cents or less. The most expensive products (30 cents or more per 25 mg of iron) included iron complexed with heme, polypeptides (protein), or polysaccharides (sugars), or mixtures of iron forms, or with additional ingredients. For the full report on costs and the review of specific brands, check out www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Iron/iron/.
Products included in the report are: 21st Century Iron, Bifera, Fergon, Ferro-Sequels, Floradix Iron+Herbs, Garden of Life Raw Iron, Life Extension Iron Plus, Nature Made Iron, Nature’s Bounty Gentle Iron, Nutrilite tri-iron folic, Ortho Molecular Products Reacted Iron, Slow Fe, Solgar Gentle Iron, Thompson Ideal Iron, Vitamin Shoppe Minerals Comfort Iron, Vitamin World Gentle Iron, and Walgreens Slow Release Iron.
ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online.
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