- Vitamin C and/or a high-protein snack will improve iron absorption
- Calcium, coffee and tea all decrease iron absorption (tea by 90%!). Watch out, therefore, for calcium-fortified orange juice or multivitamins containing calcium.
- Take iron on an empty stomach (except for the vitamin C or protein above).
- Stay upright for 30 minutes or so after taking it to ensure it does not lodge in the esophagus, where it can be an irritant.
- Plan on constipation: have docusate or another stool softener available.
- Plan on dark stools, and don’t panic.
- Recheck an H/H in a month, which should show improvement if the Fe is being absorbed.
- The better tolerated the iron preparation, the less it’s being absorbed (sadly). Ferrous gluconate, for example, is well-tolerated, but not as well-absorbed. Whereas ferrous sulfate is poorly tolerated, but better absorbed. It’s a trade-off.