5 Best Iron Supplements: Top Brands Reviews 2023

Karla Tafra

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Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

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Care Of Iron

Care/Of Iron

  • Contains vitamin C for enhanced absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Form of iron that’s less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues

Life Extension Iron Protein Plus

Life Extension Iron Protein Plus

  • Highly-absorbable
  • Easy to digest
  • Vegetarian-friendly

Persona Iron with Vitamin C

Persona Iron with Vitamin C

  • Contains vitamin C for enhanced absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Form of iron that’s less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues

Many people struggle with iron deficiency these days for which they’ve been prescribed an iron supplement. But how do they know which one to choose for a specific situation?

Iron supplements in the form of iron salts, chewable, liquid, pills, and even IV injections are formulations that help replenish iron stores in your body, keep them at optimal levels, and thus are used to treat iron-deficiency anemia; they’re a very effective solution when the necessary diet changes simply aren’t enough. As it turns out, some people are more prone to low levels of iron, so checking iron levels on the regular basis can help to correct the iron deficiency before it progresses to cause further complications. 

Best Iron Supplements On The Market In (February. 2023)

What Is Iron?

Iron is a very important mineral[1] in the human body that plays numerous roles in your overall health and well-being:

  • It’s used to make hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells[2] that carries oxygen from your lungs to every cell in your body
  • Helps create myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles
  • Plays a role in the production of hormones

Iron comes in two main forms: heme iron and non-heme iron. Animal food sources contain both, while plants and iron-fortified products contain only non-heme iron. Some of the richest food sources of heme iron are organ meats, red meat, and seafood; non-heme iron, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and leafy greens.

Iron Deficiency

When your body has low levels of iron, it may develop iron-deficiency anemia which can be a serious health issue.[3] The reasons for iron deficiency are vast and they might include blood loss, poor diet, overexercising (especially running and cardio), or the inability to adequately absorb iron through food and supplements. Those who are at higher risk for developing an iron deficiency include young children, athletes, women with an active menstrual cycle, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

Low levels of iron show up with the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy and focus
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Pale skin
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Low immune response
  • Itchiness
  • Ringing, hissing, or buzzing noises inside your head
  • Hair loss
  • Cravings for non-food items, also known as pica[4]
  • Spoon-shaped nails

If you’re experiencing some or most of these symptoms, talk to your doctor and have him perform an iron deficiency test as you might have iron deficiency anemia already. 

Having too much iron, on the other side, can cause iron poisoning, which usually occurs from taking too high doses of iron supplements. In rare cases, a person might develop an inherited disease called hemochromatosis[5] that causes an iron build-up in the body. This can lead to organ damage and severe health complications. 

The Line Up At A Glance

Care Of Iron

Best Subscription-Based Iron Supplement

Care/of Iron

  • Contains vitamin C for enhanced absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Form of iron that’s less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues

Life Extension Iron Protein Plus

Editor’s Choice

Life Extension Iron Protein Plus

  • Highly-absorbable
  • Easy to digest
  • Vegetarian-friendly

Persona

Best Iron Supplement With Vitamin C

Persona Iron with Vitamin C

  • Contains vitamin C for enhanced absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Form of iron with narrow particles to optimize bioavailability

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron

Best Iron Supplement Coming From Raw Food Sources

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron

  • Raw whole food iron
  • Contains vitamins C, B-12 & Folate to Promote Iron Absorption
  • Produced without the high heat, synthetic binders or fillers

Thorne Iron Bisglycinate

Best Quality

Thorne Iron Bisglycinate

  • Highly-absorbable form of iron
  • NSF Certified for Sport®
  • Third-party tested and verified

What Does An Iron Supplement Do?

A high-quality iron supplement is supposed to reverse iron deficiency and help rebuild iron stores in your body. They usually work much faster than changing up your diet to increase your intake of iron-rich foods. 

Still, it’s important to note that taking iron supplements without a real need for them can be harmful, causing digestive problems, organ damage, and in severe cases, even death.[6] Iron toxicity is a serious condition, so iron supplements should only be taken in those cases where you have a documented iron deficiency diagnosis. 

Why Is Vitamin C Important?

The absorption of iron and iron supplements is enhanced by the addition of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). In fact, vitamin C is the most powerful booster[7] for non-heme iron absorption, which is why it is added to any proper formulation aimed at treating iron deficiency, as seen in the following list of the 7 best iron supplements.

It is important to appreciate that while vitamin C is a powerful enhancer of iron absorption, other items in the diet can interfere with iron absorption, such as calcium (e.g., antacids) and dairy products. However, it turns out that iron absorption is so enhanced by vitamin C that it overcomes the effects of all dietary inhibitors.[8]

5 Best Iron Supplements To Try In 2023

Care/of Iron

An amazing add-on to an existing personalized supplement subscription service containing a rare form of iron that’s less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues. 

  • Contains vitamin C for enhanced absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Form of iron that’s less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues
  • Not third-party tested

Another supplement subscription brand, Care/of is popular amongst many users due to its high-quality supplements, ease of use, app-guided tracking, and personalized formulations. Care/of uses an online quiz to help assess your lifestyle habits, identify your needs and health goals, and create recommendations that are backed by science and delivered to you. 

They even have an app that helps you stay accountable and makes it easy to track and control your vitamin routine, earn rewards for being consistent, manage your subscription, and add on any additional supplements you might need along the way. 

Care/of iron is a premium supplement that delivers 18mg of iron per serving, including 30 mg of vitamin C to help with absorption. It contains an easy-to-digest form of iron, ferrous bis-glycinate chelate, which can be taken by people with even the most sensitive digestive systems. Studies show[10] how this form of iron is less likely to cause gastrointestinal symptoms than other iron forms, for example, ferrous sulfate. 

Care/of iron is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and free from artificial additives, colorings, fillers, or binders. 

Life Extension Iron Protein Plus

Highly absorbable iron supplement that’s easy on the stomach, making it suitable for anyone who’s iron deficient or suffering from iron-deficiency anemia.

  • Highly-absorbable
  • Easy to digest
  • Vegetarian-friendly
  • Not suitable for vegans (contains milk)
  • Not third-party tested

Life Extension’s Iron Protein Plus is a highly recommended iron supplement containing iron protein succinylated, a highly absorbable form of iron that’s suitable even for those with the most sensitive stomachs. It helps maintain healthy iron levels in your body, optimizing oxygen supply, energy levels, and immune health. Although all iron treatments are effective and safe, iron protein succinylated has demonstrated[9] superior effectiveness and tolerability.

Life Extension is a well-trusted supplement brand that has a team of medical doctors, nutritionists, and other health professionals ready to answer all of your questions and help guide you through your specific healing or therapeutic process. 

One serving of Life Extension Iron Protein Plus contains 15mg of iron; the bottle lasts for about 3 months, making it very affordable.

Persona Iron with Vitamin C

As a part of their personalized subscription service, Persona nutrition offers an add-on in the form of an iron supplement if you’re iron deficient or suffering from iron-deficiency anemia.

  • Contains vitamin C for enhanced absorption
  • Non-GMO
  • Form of iron with narrow particles to optimize bioavailability
  • Not third-party tested

Persona nutrition is a personalized subscription supplement service that creates customized formulas to fit your individual needs and health goals. After an online assessment, a team of nutritionists creates a blend that’s tailored to you and sends micronutrients straight to your doorstep. 

In addition to a full scope of supplements, Persona offers add-ons in the form of specific key nutrients you might be deficient in. Iron is one of them, and their vitamin C-enriched formula increases absorption and gets easily digested even by the most sensitive stomachs. If you’re unsure whether you should be supplementing with iron or not, Persona offers consultation with a nutritionist who can answer your questions. 

Their iron supplement comes in the form of Ferronyl® iron which has a narrow particle size to optimize bioavailability. The pack contains a month’s worth of 18mg of iron per serving, packed with 250mg of vitamin C and 30mg of calcium. 

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron

A great iron supplement that contains additional micronutrients that help increase absorption.

  • Raw whole food iron
  • Contains vitamins C, B-12 & Folate to promote iron absorption
  • Produced without the high heat, synthetic binders or fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, or additives
  • Expensive
  • Not third-party tested

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron contains 22mg of raw food-created iron in one serving. 

“Raw” means the vitamins are uncooked, untreated and unadulterated, and delivered with probiotics and enzymes but absolutely no synthetic vitamins. It’s made with “individually grown nutrients utilizing probiotic cultivation,” delivered in a base of 23 real fruits and vegetables, together with food cofactors. These whole-food compounds and enzymes ensure better absorption and utilization of iron, making it easier and lighter to digest. Probiotics help protect against disruptive changes to the intestinal flora from iron, decreasing the chance of an intestinal upset.  

This supplement is produced below 115º F (“raw,” not cooked) and contains no artificial fillers, additives, preservatives, or binders. It’s certified non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher, and it’s manufactured in an FDA-certified facility. 

Thorne Iron Bisglycinate

Coming from one of the most reputable brands, Thorne Iron Bisglycinate provides 25 mg of elemental iron per capsule that’s highly absorbable and less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues.

  • Highly-absorbable form of iron
  • NSF Certified for Sport®
  • Third-party tested and verified
  • Not suitable for vegans

Thorne Iron Bisglycinate comes in a high-quality form of iron for enhanced absorption without gastrointestinal side effects. It helps fight and relieve symptoms of iron deficiency, especially in athletes, which earned the NSF Certified for Sport® label. This certification ensures that every batch is tested for compliance with label claims and to ensure there are none of the 200+ substances banned by many major athletic organizations. These include stimulants, steroids, narcotics, diuretics, masking agents, and beta-2 agonists. 
Thorne Iron Bisglycinate provides 25 mg of elemental iron per capsule (equivalent to 50 mg[12] of ferris sulfate) that’s been reacted with glycine. This ensures optimal absorption in the digestive tract, helping decrease the unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

How Much Iron Does Your Body Need?

Every person’s iron needs are different, but there are some general recommendations. The FDA recommended daily intake of food[13] is:

  • 11.5–13.7 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years
  • 15.1 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years
  • 16.3–18.2 mg/day in adult men
  • 12.6–13.5 mg/day in women older than 19

When iron supplements are added to the mix, the average daily iron intake is:

  • 13.7–15.1 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years, 
  • 16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years
  • 19.3–20.5 mg/day in adult men
  • 17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19

Additionally, the average dietary iron intake in pregnant women should be around 14.7 mg/day.

Still, your specific needs might be greater than these recommendations, so talk with a healthcare professional about proper dosing.

Benefits Of Iron Supplements

Iron supplements are an effective way to fight iron deficiency and reverse iron-deficiency anemia, as they’re absorbed more efficiently, i.e, digested, than when taken from food sources. When taken consistently, you can notice:

In short, everything in your body depends on adequate oxygen: adequate oxygen depends on adequate blood supply, adequate blood supply depends on adequate numbers and quality of RBCs, RBCs depend on adequate hemoglobin, and hemoglobin depends on adequate iron. Thus, any condition resulting from insufficient iron will improve with iron supplementation.

How To Choose The Best Iron Supplements?

When choosing an iron supplement to best fit your needs, one should pay attention to the following:

  • Iron type – Some brands contain unique forms that are easier to absorb and lighter on the stomach.
  • Quality – The best supplements are tested for purity and quality, preferably by third-party evaluation and testing.
  • Dosage – It’s important to take a supplement that has an adequate dose of bioavailable iron.
  • Additional micronutrients – there are some nutrients such as vitamin C that increase iron absorption; probiotics can reduce stomach upset in those sensitive to iron supplements. 
  • Price – look for a supplement that’s affordable yet reflects high-quality sources.
  • All natural – ensure that the supplement you’re taking contains no additives, fillers, binders, artificial ingredients, and GMO substances.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Over time, iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia, a condition that shows up as a decreased level of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia, even though it may be hard to detect or even notice. In a lot of cases, people don’t even know they have anemia and can be experiencing symptoms for years before getting a proper diagnosis. 

“Anemia” refers to insufficient red blood cell (RBC) function to oxygenate the body optimally, coming from either not enough RBCs or poorly functioning RBCs; however, iron is the main consideration for each of these. 

Women are more likely to experience iron-deficiency anemia due to their menstrual cycle and monthly loss of blood. Additionally, pregnancy and breastfeeding can o  result in a decrease in iron levels.

The most common causes of iron deficiency anemia include

  • Heavy periods
  • Pregnancy
  • Poor diet and malnutrition
  • Autoimmune and intestinal diseases
  • Drugs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Endometriosis
  • An impaired ability to absorb iron from food, which could be genetic[17] or due to things that inhibit absorption, such as dietary choices, antacids, etc.

The problem with detecting iron deficiency anemia is the vagueness of symptoms which can mislead a person or his or her physician by presenting with a myriad of other issues. Still, if you’re experiencing more than one of the abovementioned symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about checking your iron levels. 

Anemia can be detected through a series of tests such as a complete blood count which measures the amount of cellular or cell-related components in blood. This test provides information about your blood cell concentrations, such as the level of hematocrit (the percent of blood volume made up of red blood cells), the amount of hemoglobin, and the size, shape, and color of your red blood cells. These are all crucial factors in detecting iron-deficiency anemia. 

If your hematocrit and hemoglobin levels are low, and especially if paired with low-sized red blood cells and paler (“hypochromic”), this indicates a diagnosis of anemia, likely from iron deficiency.

Additionally, your doctor may order other blood tests to determine the exact amount of iron in your blood, the level of ferritin, and total iron-binding capacity, all of which impact your iron stores and iron absorption.  

Ferritin[18] is a protein that binds to and, thus, stores iron. Low levels of ferritin, consequently, indicate low levels of stored iron. Total iron-binding capacity reflects the amount of transferrin, a protein that binds to iron to carry it throughout the body. 

Iron deficiency anemia can lead to potential complications and severe issues such as irregular heartbeat or tachycardia, pregnancy complications, premature births, and delayed growth and development in infants and children. 

Treatment Of Iron-Deficiency Anemia

The usual treatment combines iron supplements with a modified diet that includes naturally iron-rich foods, as well as vitamin C to help increase iron absorption. Additionally, staying away from foods or drinks such as black tea and grapes that can lower the levels of iron in your blood or interfere with its absorption is also very important. 

Other Forms Of Anemia

It’s important to note that there are other kinds of anemia. Even though iron deficiency causes anemia, you might be experiencing another form, such as that due to folic acid or vitamin B12 deficiency. If you suspect other causes of anemia, ask for more tests and information from your doctor in order to correctly diagnose your condition. Depending on the result, your treatment may be completely different, and a dose of daily iron supplements might not be necessary and may even be counterproductive or harmful.

Final Thought

Iron supplements are important nutrient additions for those who are iron deficient. You should definitely not supplement with iron if you have healthy iron stores that you can maintain through regular dietary intake. If, on the other hand, you have a diagnosis of low levels of iron or iron deficiency anemia, talk to a healthcare professional and let him/her guide you through your supplement options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best iron supplement?

The best iron supplement for you is the one recommended by your healthcare provider. However, there are iron forms that are easier to absorb than others and more suitable for those with sensitive stomachs and specific dietary choices.

What are the potential side effects of iron supplements?

The most common side effects of iron supplements are gastrointestinal issues such as an upset stomach and constipation. Additionally, there’s always a chance of iron toxicity caused by an overload of iron, causing nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, organ damage, and more serious issues which can even lead to coma and death.

When should you take iron supplements?

Iron supplements are recommended for those with low levels of iron and diagnosed iron deficiency anemia. Additionally, those who are at higher risk for developing iron deficiency are young children, women with an active menstrual cycle, pregnant or breastfeeding women, teenagers in a rapid growth phase, and athletes.

Can iron supplements cause constipation?

Yes, one of the most common side effects of iron supplements is constipation.

Do iron supplements cause diarrhea?

No, iron supplements most commonly cause constipation. 


+ 18 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Karla Tafra

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Karla is a published author, speaker, certified nutritionist, and yoga teacher, and she's passionate when writing about nutrition, health, fitness, and overall wellness topics. Her work has been featured on popular sites like Healthline, Psychology.com, Well and Good, Women's Health, Mindbodygreen, Medium, Yoga Journal, Lifesavvy, and Bodybuilding.com. In addition to writing about these topics, she also teaches yoga classes, offers nutrition coaching, organizes wellness seminars and workshops, creates content for various brands & provides copywriting services to companies.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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