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Why do some iron supplements turn my stool black?

While iron supplements are safe to consume, they can have some side effects. 

This can be disconcerting for those who have never supplemented with iron before. 

Knowing the possible side effects and potential risks before taking any new supplement can be beneficial and help you decide whether or not you want to use a product.

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According to the National Anemia Action Council, taking iron supplements can help restore your iron and hemoglobin levels. 

Iron is also great for those suffering from anemia and can help eliminate symptoms that are caused by anemia.

What are the side effects of iron supplements?

While iron supplements are fairly safe to incorporate in your diet, they can cause some uncomfortable side effects. 

With iron supplements the side effects do not generally pose any health risks. Abdominal discomfort is the biggest side effect and can result in diarrhea or constipation. 

Your stool may become black. While this may seem unsafe or like a symptom of illness, the effect is actually harmless.

The liquid form of iron supplements can cause discoloration of the teeth. This can be prevented by simply using a straw to drink the liquid form of the supplement.

There are ways to decrease side effects. Those who take their supplements alongside food have reduced problems. 

There are some iron treatments that can have more adverse effects then supplementation.

Iron sulfate is another possible treatment for iron deficiency. This tends to have fewer adverse side effects than other iron treatments or supplements.

How can you ease the side effects of iron supplements?

To prevent digestion side effects it is wise to take iron supplements with food, but to also chase the supplement with a glass of juice that is high in vitamin C. This will help aid the iron supplements absorption into the blood stream. 

Vitamin C is essential in iron absorption so increasing your intake of it alongside supplementing with iron can be helpful.

For those who have constipation, a stool softener or laxative can ease the uncomfortable side effect. It’s important to ask a doctor which stool softener or laxative is safe to use beforehand.

It’s also wise to consider cutting the recommended dosage in half if you are suffering from upset stomach. As your body becomes used to the additional influx of iron, you can increase the dosage to the recommended amount.

Absorption is the key to iron supplementation. However, in order to absorb your supplement, taking it an hour before a meal is beneficial. 

Most doctors will recommend taking iron supplements right before a meal if you suffer from any side effects though. It’s also important to stay away from those products that inhibit iron absorption when taking a supplement. 

Caffeine, milk and calcium supplements can prevent iron supplements from being properly absorbed. Foods that contain tannins, for example tea, can reduce absorption of iron supplements. 

What are the types of iron supplements out there on the market?

There are two common forms of supplements. Ferrous form or ferric form of iron are the two common types. The supplement that is the easiest for the body to absorb is ferrous iron. 

Pills that contain iron are usually in ferrous form. There are three subcategories of ferrous iron that are sold on the market today. They are ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate and finally ferrous sulfate.

When choosing any of these iron supplements it’s important to look at the elemental iron in each individual serving. Most iron supplements in ferrous form are sold as a pill.

Tablets and pills are the most common forms of iron supplements. Iron supplements are also available in capsules, drops, and liquids, coated and extended release capsules.

Tablets and pills are better absorbed and cheaper as well. For adults who have trouble swallowing the pill form and also for children, the liquid form of iron supplements can be useful.

Coated tablets or extended release capsules have fewer and less severe side effects. However, this form of iron supplement is not absorbed as well in the bloodstream.

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C can help iron be absorbed better. Iron acts better in an acidic/low pH environment.

Iron supplements are great to incorporate in your diet if you are deficient of this important mineral. To locate and compare a variety of different iron supplements and their potential side effects you can use the free supplement finder now!