Which iron supplement?

I have been told I am iron deficient but doctor and endo have differing views on it. Ferritin is low - 23 (15-150) but complete blood count is normal except for MCV which was below range. It was 76f/L (80-100). My doctor told me at an appointment weeks ago it was slightly under range and in the past previous MCV levels have been fine so this is a new development. I am not sure if that means my iron deficiency has worsened since I have not stuck to a routine of taking iron over the years because of the problems I have had with it.

I am not quite fatigued at the moment but the tiredness sets in more after a period and because my periods are always heavy at the end of them they knock me out. My face gets pale, my dark circles come back and I have been breathless and my stamina is much worse after a period has ended, so I am guessing it is not so much iron deficiency but now anaemia and these symptoms reflect this? The doctor has said to me about the dark circles under my eyes but he thinks it is a hypothyroid symptom.

I have looked through an article on here regarding iron but I cannot decide on which iron supplement to take because I have had problems with the ones I have tried. I would like to try one that is in liquid/powder form because I have problems swallowing tablets/pills.

I thought about taking ferrous bisglycinate but this is a tablet only by the looks of things.

Ferrous fumarate was what I started out taking - I was told by the doctor not to take this with vitamin C but when I looked at the PIL (patient information leaflet) I found out that I could. So I mixed a vitamin C tablet (fizzy) in to a glass of water and added the iron tablet but I felt sick immediately after.

I then tried Floradix and added fruit juice and vitamin C to it but this made me feel sick as well and the Floradix went straight into the bin.

The doctor sent me a letter saying my iron supplement was changed from ferrous fumarate to ferrous sulphate. When I went to try the ferrous sulphate the tablets were film coated so wouldn't dissolve in water/juice.

I have tried to increase iron by adding kale and spinach to my diet - I have only just found out these are goitrogenic and I have accidentally eaten a lot of these raw which may account for the throat/neck problems I have been getting and I had an ultrasound scan done a few months ago (before I ate the goitrogenic foods) saying my thyroid is enlarged with no nodules or lumps.

I was suggested to try something called an iron fish (?) but I don't cook for myself and I can't find this on Google Shopping or Amazon.

I have seen Spatone which is an iron supplement, is this good at boosting ferritin levels? My doctor told me if I wanted to supplement with a different iron (she didn't suggest an alternative) to not go for Spatone because iron in water is a "myth".


17 Replies

  • Google - Lucky Iron Fish. I have just ordered one for my grandson.....

  • Marz, I am going to have a look at this one, thank you. Low grade iron deficiency has been an issue for me for years. The only iron I could tolerate was pregaday, supplemented with folic acid, which was formulated for pregnant women and my old GP put me on it initially when I was pregnant with my youngest and I collapsed because my haemoglobin had gone through the floor. Unfortunately I dont think its available now, and in spite of it coming up on my bloods that my iron is low, my GP doesnt think its an issue.

  • netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/d...

    OK the link is from 2011. What I found interesting are the reasons given for not taking it ! So do you know your levels of Ferritin - Folate - B12. There is more than just iron anaemia - you can also have Folate anaemia. I do think your GP should be looking into WHY your iron is low. Low Iron = Low Oxygen = Low energy. When will Docs begin looking at the very basics of our health ??

  • I think its a compound of ignorance, no time and money. They arent specialists anf unless they have a specific interest in an area they tend tp do what theyre told by the journals and consultants. I was lucky. My old GP had loads of time to talk to me (this was early 80s) plus a special interest in allergies and gut problems, and intelligent supplementation. All the supplements I take now I had prescribed for me then. He was aware that gut problems and gluten allergies could affect absorption. He was the one that prescribed pregaday. When he left, it all went Pete Tong, and my health went downhill. I haven't had ferritin or folate checked for a few months, and I did put the results on the forum. I am supplementing with all the things recommended, most of which my old GP was giving me, but some in higher doses, plus D3 that the rheumatologist prescribed. Amongst the supplements are multi B, methylcobalamin, and folic acid.

  • Thank you Marz. I will Google Lucky Iron Fish and see what I can find.

  • HI Spatone contains less iron. Persevere with the script for iron . If Endo says it is too low then they know more about it than the GP. You can take any vit C with it or a glass of orange juice to help it absorb.


  • Thank you Jackie. I will persevere with the script for iron for now. It could be the vitamin C I bought that disagreed with me. I bought it cheap from Sainsbury's.

  • Spatone, iron in vegetables is mostly locked in cellulose fibre which we cant digest. If you want an iron rich diet you need egg yolks, liver, heart etc. Low grade iron deficiency has been a fact of life for years with me. I have gut problems and dont tolerate iron supplements well. Many years ago my old GP, who was pretty clued up on supplements and dietary issues, gave me a product called pregaday which is slow release iron supplemented with folic acid. I have never been offered it since and am not sure its still available.

  • Thank you MrsRaven for your answer. I have got low stomach acid but the doctor thought I had high stomach acid and prescribed me Omeprazole for it. I eat a lot of eggs (scrambled, boiled, poached, fried) but that is the extent of my cooking skills.

    I have tried faggots, black pudding and pates too, but I have read pate can contain flllers.

  • Hi Ellie8,

    I now eat a few mouth fulls of food before taking Ferrous fumerate, then eat again straight away, I no long get those awful nauseous /sickly feelings. Hubby never gets any sick symptoms on an empty stomach. :)

    Wondering if it is connected to the different acid levels in our guts.

    Breathlessness can be down to having low iron levels.

  • Thank you Coastwalker. I have got low stomach acid too so possibly yes it may be down to this. That's a good idea in having some mouthfuls of food then taking the tablets and then eating again. I would never have thought of it!

  • Ugh! I just lost everything, so I'll give you the short version.

    Eat beef! The bloodier the cut the better. Take heme iron. You might be able to get a good liquid at a health food store. Make sure you take zinc with your iron. I am surprised your doctor said no to the orange juice, because you are supposed to take most forms with vitamin C. Also, take Magnesium and B12 sublinguals.

    I get so hungry that I feel nauseous if I take some vitamins on empty stomach, so, yeah, eat first.

  • Thank you for this 2Old. Will do. :)

  • Thank you DanteNXS.

  • I had a ferritin count of only 29. My doctor said this is not low. When I asked for advice, on what to take, he sent me pages and pages of stuff that I did not understand, to support that my ferritin is not low and should not be treated. I started iron tablets any way.

    I started with ferrous sulphate together with a calcium tablet, lasted ten days and could not take the feeling sick all the time. I moved on to ferrous fulminate with a a vitamin C tablet. The vitamin C tablet was so big, it went down in a lump and left me very uncomfortable for about an hour after taking it. I lasted six weeks. The feeling sick got much worse plus my stomach was really upset alternating between constipation and diarrhea. I don't know which I found worse. It got so bad, I could not leave home!!

    I now take iron bisglycinate ( gentle iron ) together with a chewable Vitamin C tablet. My stomach is much better now. I've been on this for about three weeks. I take two tablets a day. My stomach is still vaguely uncomfortable but is a lot better.

    I am aware that I am taking less iron than with the other tablets but it is all I can tolerate. I've also read that more iron is absorbed from gentle iron so it's not as low content as one first might think.

    I did consider spatone and some other sachets and dismissed them because their iron content is really low.

    I also read up on the lucky iron fish. It works well if you cook a lot of stews and soups. It only works if it has been in the water for at least half an hour and the longer the better.

    Also you have to get used to the taste of iron in your food. I read it can be quite strong.

    I just don't cook enough stews and soups for it to work for me.

    I hope this helps.

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