Can Iron Supplements Make You Sick?

Your body needs iron to make blood cells. Without iron, your body would not be able to produce or carry many proteins that are essential for blood cells. You may need an iron supplement if you develop an iron deficiency such as anemia. Never take supplements or vitamins without consulting your health-care provider.

Taking iron supplements that your body doesn't need can cause severe side effects. (Image: Ls9907/iStock/Getty Images)

Taking Too Much

Taking too much iron can make you sick and cause you to develop low blood pressure, a weak pulse, fever, headache, chills, dizziness and a buildup of fluid in your lungs. You may suffer from a coma, but this typically occurs within 30 to 60 minutes after an overdose, according to Medline Plus. This is you should take iron supplements only under the care of a licensed health-care provider. If you suffer from hemochromatosis, a hereditary condition that causes your body to absorb too much iron, your body stores excessive amounts of iron in organs such as your heart, liver and pancreas. This can lead to cancer, liver disease and heart problems.

Recommended Daily Allowance

The recommended daily allowance set by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine for iron is 8 milligrams per day for men and 18 milligrams per day for women. Women require more iron than men due to menstrual cycles and the need to create and replace blood cells. Your needs may vary from the recommended daily allowance. Ask your doctor what's right for you. Most Americans receive an adequate amount of iron from food alone, but for those who may have a poor diet or a diet that lacks iron-rich foods, supplements may be the answer.

Iron Sources and Supplements

Iron is obtained from foods such as raisins, prunes, beans, seeds, green vegetables and whole grains. If you're not obtaining an adequate amount of iron from foods, you may opt for an iron supplement. Meat is also a source of iron. Before using iron supplements or any other supplements, consult with your physician. Iron supplements are available as capsules, tablets and other various forms.

Considerations

Since most Americans receive plenty of iron from diet alone, your doctor may test your iron levels by obtaining a blood sample. If your iron is within a healthy range, your physician may advise against taking iron supplements. If you have hemochromatosis, your doctor may also advise against taking iron supplements since the results can be toxic. MedlinePlus.com reports that iron supplements may cause stomach upset and nausea if you are taking too much of them. If you have an iron deficiency, talk to your health-care provider about incorporating more iron-rich foods into your diet, and ask how much iron your body needs.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.