Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
Q. Dear Terry, “While looking for an iron supplement, I noticed that some products contain “heme iron”. What is this?” — Carrie W., DePere, WI
A. Dear Carrie, There are two types of iron – heme iron (from meat, poultry and fish) and non-heme iron (from plants). Iron supplements are not easily absorbed, and non-heme iron (for example, iron sulfate, iron fumarate and iron gluconate) is not only not well absorbed, it can be harsh on the stomach and cause constipation. While formulas with these types of iron may appear to be providing large amounts of this mineral, because the absorption is so poor very little iron will actually reach the bloodstream.
If you want a natural, more absorbable form of iron, I recommend heme iron. This form of iron is attached to hemoglobin – the protein that transports energizing oxygen to muscle cells. The great thing about heme iron is that up to 33% of the quantity of heme iron ingested can be absorbed, versus as little as the 1% absorption you find with iron salts, which means that it can be up to 33 times more powerful – and it’s not harsh on the stomach or constipating.
Look for a product that contains heme iron (from liver extract). Make sure the product contains predigested and concentrated liver extract that comes from animals raised without the use of chemical sprays, pesticides or antibiotics.
Terry . . . Naturally