We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission or other tangible benefit. Optum Store, Optum Perks, and Healthline Media are owned by RVO Health. Here’s our process.
Healthline only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
- Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
- Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
- Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
Thorne, Pure Encapsulations, and MegaFood top our list of best iron supplements. See what else we recommend and what to look for when choosing for yourself.
- Best overall: Thorne Iron Bisglycinate | Skip to Review
- Best multivitamin: Ritual Essential for Women Multivitamin 18+ | Skip to Review
- Best with vitamin C: Pure Encapsulations OptiFerin-C | Skip to Review
- Best vegan: MegaFood Blood Builder | Skip to Review
- Best vegan with vitamin C: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron | Skip to Review
- Best vegetarian: NOW Iron | Skip to Review
- Best affordable: Nature Made Iron 65mg | Skip to Review
- Best subscriptions:
- Best chewable: Klaire Labs Chewable Iron Chelate |Skip to review
- Best for sensitive stomachs: Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid | Skip to Review
- Best liquid: NOW Liquid Iron | Skip to Review
- Best prenatal: Thorne Basic Prenatal | Skip to Review
Your body depends on iron for vital processes, such as oxygen transportation, hormone production, growth, and neurological development.
Most people can get all the iron they need by eating a nutrient-dense, well-rounded diet. But if you have inadequate iron intake, increased need, or impaired absorption, you may be at risk of low iron levels and iron deficiency anemia.
If a healthcare professional recommends supplemental iron, you might consider the following options vetted by Healthline’s medical and nutrition experts.
A note on price
Prices for iron supplements range from $0.04–$0.86 per serving or $10.35–42.99 per container, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
- $ = under $0.20 per serving
- $$ = $0.20–$0.40 per serving
- $$$ = over $0.40 per serving
|Product||Price||Dose||% of DV||Type of iron||Third-party tested|
|Thorne Iron Bisglycinate||$$||1 capsule||139%||ferrochel ferrous bisglycinate chelate||yes|
|Ritual Essential for Women Multivitamin 18+||$$$||2 capsules||44%||iron bisglycinate||yes|
|Pure Encapsulations |
|$$||1 capsule||165%||iron bisglycinate||yes|
|MegaFood Blood Builder||$$$||1 tablet||144%||iron bisglycinate||no|
|Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron||$$$||1 capsule||122%||brown rice chelate||no|
|NOW Iron||$||1 capsule||100%||ferrochel ferrous bisglycinate||no|
|Nature Made Iron||$||1 tablet||361%||ferrous sulfate||yes|
|Care/of Iron||$||1 capsule||100%||ferrous bisglycinate chelate||yes|
|Persona Iron with Vitamin C||$$||1 capsule||100%||iron ferronyl||no|
|Klaire Labs Chewable |
|$$||1 chewable||167%||ferrochel ferric trisglycinate chelate||no|
|Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid||$$$||1 tsp||83%||ferric pyrophosphate||yes|
|NOW Liquid Iron||$$||2 tsp||100%||ferric glycinate||no|
|Thorne Basic Prenatal||$$$||3 capsules||167%||ferrochel ferrous bisglycinate chelate||yes|
- Quality: The iron supplements are tested for quality and purity, ideally by a third-party organization.
- Iron type: The supplements contain easily absorbed forms of iron.
- Other nutrients: The supplements are free of nutrients that impair iron absorption and may contain nutrients that enhance absorption.
- Dose: The supplements contain an effective dose of iron.
- Price: We included products to suit a variety of budgets.
- Forms: We included iron supplements in several forms, including liquids and chewables, to suit different preferences and tolerances.
Iron is an essential mineral present in:
- Hemoglobin: This protein transports oxygen from your lungs to your tissues.
- Myoglobin: This is another protein that carries and stores oxygen for your muscles.
Iron is also
- brain cell development
- physical growth
- hormone synthesis
- muscle metabolism
To support these important processes, your body needs a steady supply of iron from your diet.
Iron exists in
- Heme iron: This iron is found in animal-derived foods. The human body readily absorbs it.
- Non-heme iron: This form is found in plant-based and iron-fortified foods. The body doesn’t absorb it as well as it does heme iron.
You can also take iron supplements. Iron supplements may be necessary for people who don’t get enough iron in their diet and those with increased iron needs.
Types of iron
For people who need an iron supplement, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. There are so many options, not to mention different forms and doses.
Supplemental iron comes in different forms, including:
- ferrous sulfate
- ferrous fumarate
- ferrous bisglycinate
- ferrous gluconate
While all these forms can effectively raise iron levels, some are a bit harder on your digestive system.
For example, ferrous sulfate is one of the most common forms of iron. But it’s
Meanwhile, ferrous bisglycinate is
Additionally, iron supplements come in various doses, which can increase the risk of side effects.
Here’s a more in-depth overview of the types of iron you might find in popular supplements, including their bioavailability, affordability, and
|Iron bisglycinate |
|highly absorbable||a bit more expensive than other forms of iron|
|Ferrous sulfate||well absorbed||inexpensive||in high doses, may cause gastrointestinal side effects like constipation|
|Ferric sulfate||inexpensive||in high doses, may cause gastrointestinal side effects like constipation|
|Ferrous fumarate||well absorbed||inexpensive||in high doses, may cause gastrointestinal side effects like constipation|
Who should take iron supplements?
People with adequate iron stores should aim to meet their iron needs through foods rather than supplements. However, you might need an iron supplement if you:
- are treating an existing iron deficiency
- have low iron stores
- are trying to maintain healthy iron levels
People at risk of developing an iron deficiency who may benefit from an iron supplement include:
- infants and kids
- pregnant people
- people with heavy menstrual bleeding
- people with certain forms of cancer, such as colon cancer
- people with gastrointestinal disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease
- people with heart failure
- people who frequently donate blood
Warning about iron and children
Health experts do not recommend giving an iron supplement to your child unless a healthcare professional directs you to do so. Children are
Some people with iron deficiency anemia may need iron infusions if:
- oral iron supplementation does not work
- their bodies can’t properly absorb iron
- their iron losses are too great to be treated with oral supplements
Overall, it’s wise to talk with a healthcare professional to find out whether an iron supplement is right for you.
How to take iron supplements
Healthcare professionals may recommend some people continue to take iron supplements even after their hemoglobin levels return to normal.
For these people, taking an iron-only supplement is a good idea because other nutrients commonly found in multivitamins, such as calcium, may inhibit iron absorption.
Additionally, it’s recommended to take iron supplements between meals and avoid pairing them with foods or beverages that may
Instead, take iron with a source of vitamin C, such as orange juice or bell peppers. Vitamin C can help enhance iron absorption.
In terms of supplement forms, one of the best iron supplements for anemia that’s unlikely to cause constipation is ferrous bisglycinate chelate. It’s
Potential side effects and safety concerns
Certain iron supplements are more likely to cause side effects than others.
Potential side effects of taking iron supplements
- abdominal pain
Iron can be toxic if taken in very high doses. To reduce the risk of side effects and toxicity, avoid exceeding the established
These levels are as follows:
- 40 mg per day for babies and kids
- 45 mg per day for teens and adults
Finally, it’s important to keep iron supplements out of reach of children because they are more susceptible to iron toxicity than adults.
Children may mistake iron supplements for candy and ingest large amounts, which
Iron supplements may lower the effectiveness of levothyroxine, a common drug used to treat:
- hypothyroidism, also called an underactive thyroid
- thyroid cancer
On the other hand, some medications — such as proton pump inhibitors, which treat acid reflux or stomach ulcers — can
When to contact a doctor
Having too little iron in your body can cause symptoms
- difficulty concentrating
- shortness of breath
Some people are more at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia, including:
- people with heavy periods
- pregnant people
- people with health conditions that cause nutrient malabsorption
If you think you may have an iron deficiency, visit a healthcare professional. They can check your iron levels with a blood test.
Do not try to treat an iron deficiency on your own. Even though most people respond well to oral iron supplements, some may need iron infusions to effectively increase their iron levels.
It’s important to consider several factors when choosing an iron supplement, including the type of iron, provided dose, and product quality and safety.
Here are the current
|14–18 years||19–50 years||51+ years|
|11 mg for males||8 mg for males||8 mg for males|
|15 mg for females||18 mg for females||8 mg for females|
|27 mg while pregnant||27 mg while pregnant||—|
|10 mg while nursing||9 mg while nursing||—|
Keep in mind that if you’re low on iron, you’ll need more iron than most other people need each day.
If you have low iron stores, have a deficiency, or need extra iron for any reason, a healthcare professional can recommend a dosage that fits your needs.
Useful supplement shopping guides
Many forms of supplemental iron are effective for increasing iron levels.
Ferrous forms of iron tend to be more bioavailable than ferric iron, meaning your body more easily absorbs them.
However, some forms of iron, including ferrous sulfate, are more likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects like constipation than other forms, such as iron bisglycinate chelate.
So, iron bisglycinate chelate is a good overall option for raising iron levels that’s also gentle on the stomach.
Meanwhile, iron supplements come in several options, including liquids, capsules, and chewable products. Liquid and chewable iron supplements are a good choice if you cannot tolerate pills or capsules.
Some people, such as those with health conditions that cause nutrient malabsorption, may require iron infusions. These are administered and monitored by a healthcare team.
If you have iron deficiency anemia, ferrous forms of iron, such as ferrous sulfate, tend to be more bioavailable than ferric iron.
Iron bisglycinate chelate is also effective for treating iron deficiency anemia. Plus, it’s gentle on the stomach. It’s often preferred over ferrous and ferric salts because it’s less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects like constipation.
The amount of iron you should take depends on your iron levels.
For people with iron deficiency, the typical recommendation is to take divided daily doses to reach 100–200 mg of elemental iron per day.
However, research suggests that taking smaller doses of iron once daily and taking iron every other day may help improve absorption and tolerability compared with taking large daily doses of iron.
Many forms of iron are gentle on the stomach and less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects.
If you need an iron supplement but are concerned about potential side effects like constipation, it’s best to choose a supplement that contains iron in the form of iron bisglycinate chelate over supplements that contain ferric or ferrous salts, such as ferrous sulfate.
Iron is an important mineral that’s
While it’s always best to fulfill your iron needs through a diet high in iron-rich whole foods, supplements may sometimes be necessary to help you reach your daily iron needs.
Many types of iron supplements are available and contain varying doses and forms of the mineral.
Consult a healthcare professional before taking any new supplement and consider the factors mentioned above to help you choose a high quality product.