Popping Pills 2: Iron

My vitamins


I decided to start taking iron a few days a week.  I have tested low enough to be turned away from donating blood a few times.  Since I have been tracking my food intake with the My Fitness Pal app on the phone, I have discovered that my iron intake is low.  In my search for energy and balance, I felt that taking some iron may be helpful.

Like vitamin D, from the previous post, you can take too much iron.  Please use with caution and discuss iron supplementation with your doctor.

The body uses iron to help build red blood cells.  These cells are what carry oxygen through the body.

Signs and symptoms of low Iron

  • Feal weak and/or fatigue easy
  • Pale appearance
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Children and babies can have different signs, including slow growth and skill development
  • Difficulty maintaining body temperature
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Urge to eat unusual substances
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Brittle nails and/or hair loss

How to boost iron without supplements

  1. Do NOT drink coffee or tea for up to 3 hours before your iron containing meal.  They can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the iron.  
  2. Eat foods with vitamin C with iron containing foods to help with absorption, especially with plant based sources.
  3. The body tends to absorb meat based sources more efficiently but all of these foods can help boost your iron:

Clams, Oysters, Beef, Liver, Kale, Spinach, White Beans, Tofu, Watermelon, Strawberries, fortified grains and cereals, Pumpkin seeds, Molasses, Lentils

Chart from CDC

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron by age and sex.
Age/Group Life Stage Iron (mg/day)
Infants 0–6 months 0.27*
7–12 months 11
Children 1–3 years 7
4–8 years 10
Males 9–13 years 8
14–18 years 11
19–30 years 8
31–50 years 8
51–70 years 8
>70 years 8
Females 9–13 years 8
14–18 years 15
19–30 years 18
31–50 years 18
51–70 years 8
>70 years 8
Pregnant Women 14–18 years 27
19–30 years 27
31–50 years 27
Lactating Women 14–18 years 10
19–30 years 9
31–50 years 9
*This value is an Adequate Intake (AI) value.  AI is used when there is not enough information known to set a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
Source: Dietary Reference Intakes, Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon.* (PDF-86k)

Related Websites

The Daily Green


Red Cross


Dr. Oz


Other Popping Pills Posts:


Fish/Krill Oil


19 thoughts on “Popping Pills 2: Iron

  1. As always, great information and resources. I used to take a multivitamin with iron, but I don’t anymore as I mentioned on your previous post. But I, too, need to make sure I get enough iron in my diet, because my hemoglobin runs low as well. I envy my husband’s robust hemoglobin level. 😉

      • As I’m sure you know, low hemoglobin does not mean low iron. And as I’m sure you also know, taking too much iron can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. You’re smart to get it from foods! Thanks for the post!

        • I totally agree and people should discuss supplements with their doctors and other health professionals. I do find that I need to ask my doctor if s/he would be comfortable adding specific tests to the usual check-up type blood work. Thank you so much for the added information!

  2. Hi Katie. I gave up popping iron when I chewed on a couple of feet of rail track and 3 miles of rail trucks containing rocks fell into the gorge filling it, causing the water to back up and flood the city. Definitely a health risk in taking too much iron 😉 Ralph xox

  3. I’m so tough, I just chew on nails! Sometimes I pop so many pills, it feels like a full meal! Who are you calling heckler? Annie’s been making awesome Kale smoothies lately. I even have dark green ice cubes in my freezer! Yay! 🙂

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