Many medications may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron. Not being able to properly absorb iron may lead to anemia. Common symptoms of anemia include fatigue and weakness, which happens because blood cells aren’t getting enough oxygen. If you need to use a medication that interferes with iron absorption, you may need to take additional iron supplements or alter your medication’s dosage or dosing schedule to prevent anemia. Always talk to your doctor if you are concerned you are not getting enough iron.
A type of medication used to lower cholesterol known as a bile acid sequestrant may reduce the absorption of iron in the body. Examples of this medication include cholestyramine and colestipol. These medications may also interfere with the absorption of other minerals and nutrients, such as folic acid and vitamins A, D and K.
H2 receptor blockers, used to treat ulcers or other stomach problems, may also interfere with iron absorption. These medications work by changing the pH in the stomach, which is what alters your body’s ability to absorb the iron. Examples of these medications include cimetidine, famotidine, ranitidine and nizatidine. Although more research needs to be done, it is possible that antacid medications and proton pump inhibitors may also interfere with iron absorption.
Although not technically medications, some supplements may also prevent iron absorption. Calcium makes it more difficult for the body to absorb iron from food or supplements, while soy protein may limit the body’s ability to store iron. Zinc supplements may also interfere with how the body absorbs iron, and vice versa, but this effect disappears if you take the two supplements with food.
Just as some medications interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron, iron may also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb certain medications. Iron may decrease the absorption of tetracyclines, quinolones and angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors. It also may reduce the effectiveness of levothyroxine, levodopa and carbidopa. Other medications may also negatively interact with iron. Because of this, it is important to notify a doctor or pharmacist of all of your current medications and supplements before taking something new.
Taking iron supplements may be beneficial for people who have difficulty absorbing iron because of their medications, but it is important not to get too much. Iron overdose may cause several adverse side effects, including vomiting, bloody diarrhea and death. If you plan to take iron supplements, always talk to your doctor to determine an appropriate amount for you given your specific medical situation.