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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I increase my iron levels?

    My endo said I need to increase my iron somehow so how do I increase my iron?

    I also suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and concerned about taking iron tablets as I have heard it can cause constipation.

    I am not much of a meat eater either.

    What other alternatives are there to increase my iron intake?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2



    I have crohns and anemia. I've been getting iron infusions which have been great for me. I never found any food or supplements that made a difference. You could talk to your doctor and see if it might be an option for you?

  • 4


    Prof Andrew Day


    Simple ways to increase iron are to optimise diet sources (especially red meat), and to combine these with some vitamin c at the same time (vitamin c increases the absorption). Iron tablets can help to suppplement diet sources. Many people get harder stools with iron: some get diarrhoea. They also commonly chnage the colour of the stool (to dark/black).There is increasing concern that oral iron supplements can not be a good idea during active inflammation of the gut - they could contribute to this and exacerbate the inflammation. So, if IBD quiet and under control then could try oral iron supplements. But if oral iron doesn't help, or if it is contraindicated, then an iron infusion is the bext option (this involves giving a large amount of iron into the veins over a period of time). This can boost iron stores for some time. 

  • 1


    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    Many of my clients are advised liquid iron instead, which can minimise the constipation issues associated with tablets. All the best.

  • 1


    With IBD iron can be poorly absorbed, especially when the small bowel is affected which is where iron is absorbed.  
    If you are wanting to try dietary sources it is important to know that even for people without IBD iron is poorly absorbed, although absorption increases with need. Certainly haem iron which is the iron found in animal foods (fish, chicken, not just meat) is much better absorbed than the iron in our plant and cereal foods. Haem iron can also help the absorption of the iron in plant foods and also that in the iron supplement.  You can use supplementary drinks, iron fortified foods like some breads and cereals to complement the iron from haem food sources and your supplement. If using a liquid iron supplement be sure to use a straw to prevent teeth discoloration.

    If you have problems with constipation using foods with soluble fibre can be effective in having a stool that is soft and easy to pass. Starting with a smaller dose then increasing can be helpful, or take the supplement every second day rather than stopping completely.  Also remembering taking an iron supplement during the acute phase is not wise as this may irritate the inflammatory areas so best avoided as Prof Day as said.

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