Iron Supplements For The Elderly

Iron supplements for the elderly – Are they really Necessary?

As we age, we actually lose less iron than when we are younger. Women, no longer menstruating, do not lose iron through the blood. It has been suggested that older people lost about half as much iron per day compared to menstruating women (Source: see link below). So elderly people who are healthy would have less of a need for iron than when they were younger.

However, some elderly people are prone to blood loss through conditions like “hemorrhage, worm infestation, peptic gastric or anastomotic ulceration, ulcerative colitis, colonic neoplasia, and aspirin-induced bleeding”. (Source: If you feel you have one of these conditions, you need to consult a doctor. And if they suggest taking an iron supplement, do so under their supervision.

If you are anemic, you might have the following symptoms – tiredness, headaches, light headedness, shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain, fast pulse, and pale coloring. (Source: But given the dangers associated with iron toxicity, if you suspect you are anemic, get a test from your doctor to verify this before you take any supplements.

Iron Supplements for the Elderly – Is it Safe?

Our ability to excrete the excess iron we consume is limited. For this reason, care has to be taken if you are supplementing with iron. You can poison yourself by taking too much iron in supplemental form. And it can lead to damage to your organs.

Iron Supplements For the Elderly and Other Medicines

Iron supplements can make some medications less effective. These include:

  • antacids
  • tetracycline antibiotics
  • Acetohydroxamic acid preparations such as lithostat
  • Fluoroquinolone medicines such as ciprofloxacin, enoxacin, lomefloxacin, norfloxacin, ofloxacin
  • Etidronate

MedlinePlus also cautions against taking iron supplements with dimercaprol.

If you have a stomach ulcer, colitis or other problems with your intestine, asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis or an iron overload condition, MedlinePlus indicates taking an iron supplement can make these worse. You should always discuss this with your doctor.

Finally, the Vitamin Herb University says the best sources of iron in our diets are: “kelp, brewer’s yeast, blackstrap molasses, clams, oysters, wheat bran, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, and beef liver”. And of course, dark vegetables and legumes.

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