nutrition

Medically Reviewed

Should You Take a Multivitamin with Iron? Here's What the Research Says

Woman holding multi-colored vitamins in the left hand and an empty vitamin package in the right.

Multivitamins with iron may be useful to people who are at particular risk of iron deficiency. Read on to learn more.

Multivitamins can help our bodies function at a higher level by filling nutrient gaps in our diets. When our bodies have the nutrients they need, our whole quality of life is improved. It’s little wonder, then, that an estimated one-third of all American adults take a multivitamin or multimineral. Multivitamin products are very popular and will likely remain so.

However, no one single type of multivitamin is for everybody. It all depends on what your particular needs are. That’s why some multivitamins include iron. Some people are at higher risk of iron deficiency, and iron deficiency presents a challenging set of potential health issues. Let’s take a look at what multivitamins are good for and how they ought to be used.

What are multivitamins with iron good for?

In order to function at an optimal level, your body needs an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. That said, most people simply don’t get what they need from their diets. When nutrient gaps exist, vitamin supplements – including multivitamins – can help fill them.

Multivitamins combine a number of different vitamins that are ordinarily found through dietary means. You can choose a multivitamin based on your specific vitamin needs. Some multivitamins contain iron, which can be useful if you’re one of the many people out there with inadequate iron intake. Iron is a mineral that your body needs to perform a range of different processes. It carries oxygen and red blood cells throughout your body, enabling your body to perform all of its other functions.

Certain people are at greater likelihood of having inadequate iron intake, including kids and infants, people who experience heavy menstruation, people who are pregnant, people with certain gastrointestinal conditions, athletes, and people who donate blood on a frequent basis. Some symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, dizziness, issues with concentrating, reduced cognitive function, and impaired exercise performance. Iron deficiency is typically connected to other nutrient deficiencies, which can make it challenging to isolate iron deficiency as the specific cause of the symptoms.

If an iron deficiency is determined to be a problem for you, a multivitamin with iron can be part of your solution, helping you to restore your body’s iron stores.

What to know before you start a vitamin routine with a multivitamin with iron

Before you take any iron supplement – including a multivitamin with iron – it’s important to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will want to measure your levels before proceeding, because taking too much iron can be toxic.

What should you avoid while taking multivitamins with iron?

Because iron supplements can interact with other medications and supplements in your system, it’s important to exercise caution about how and when you take your multivitamin with iron.

You should avoid taking other multivitamin products within two hours of taking your multivitamin with iron; this means you should plan for a 2-hour window before or after taking the multivitamins. If you take similar vitamin products together, you might experience toxicity and its attendant side effects.

The same goes for antibiotic medications – give yourself a 2-hour before or after taking your multivitamin with iron. If you’re talking such antibiotics as levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, among others, you should exercise particular caution.

Also be on the lookout for foods that are known to make iron absorption more difficult for your body. Give yourself a 1- or 2-hour window after eating fish, meat, live, whole grain, and fortified foods before taking your multivitamin with iron. Calcium also makes iron absorption more difficult for your body, so you should avoid taking your multivitamin with iron with milk, dairy products generally, or calcium supplements.

Can you take an iron supplement with a multivitamin?

Should you take a multivitamin that has iron in it or an iron supplement with a multivitamin?

This is a great question – and before you make a decision either way, it’s important to consult a medical professional. The key is to know what your iron needs are and what dose is present in the multivitamin compared with the iron supplement. Depending on the amount of iron in the multivitamin with iron, you may be advised to take an iron supplement in addition to the multivitamin. Again, this all depends on your lab values. Your doctor will also want to know the quantities of other nutrients present in the other supplements you’re taking.

How to safely take a daily multivitamin-with-iron supplement

You should never take more than the recommended dose of your multivitamin with iron, as excess iron can be toxic. You should also avoid taking other multivitamin products within 2 hours of the time at which you took the multivitamin with iron. The key is to avoid unhelpful interactions between the supplements and medications you’re taking. As always, you should talk to your doctor before proceeding.

Potential side effects and contraindications

As we’ve discussed, it’s very possible for other drugs and supplements to have negative interactions with multivitamins with iron. Before using a multivitamin with iron, it’s important to tell your doctor about all the supplements and medications you’re using. Once you’ve started taking it, you should be on the lookout for signs of a possible allergic reaction. These potential signs include hives; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat; and difficulty breathing.

If you’re taking the recommended dose under the counsel of a doctor, you’re unlikely to experience major side effects. However, some side effects may include a number of gastrointestinal issues, including constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or upset stomach.

Introducing the Care/of Multivitamin + Iron

The Care/of multivitamin with iron – dubbed “The Foundation” – can be especially helpful to people at risk of inadequate iron intake, including people who menstruate, pregnant people, people who give blood often, and so on. It contains better ingredients – not more ingredients – in easily digestible forms. Since most people’s diets don’t meet the recommended amounts of nutrients, this multivitamin can be a great way to fill dietary gaps. It’s also designed with the most up-to-date research, ensuring maximum effectiveness.

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