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What Vitamins Should I Take for Energy If I Have Low Iron?

author image Sydney Hornby, M.D.
Sydney Hornby specializes in metabolic disease and reproductive endocrinology. He is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, where he earned his M.D., and has worked for several years in academic medical research. Writing for publication since 1995, Hornby has had articles featured in "Medical Care," "Preventive Medicine" and "Medical Decision Making."
What Vitamins Should I Take for Energy If I Have Low Iron?
Woman holding an armful of different colored bell peppers Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

While certain vitamins may help your body better absorb iron, if you have low iron, the most important supplement for energy is iron. If you have been diagnosed with an iron deficiency, most likely your physician has run a full blood panel for you. This will identify any additional vitamins or minerals that you should be taking. For their patients with anemia or iron deficiency, physicians will normally prescribe a high-dosage iron supplement or recommend that you purchase one over the counter. Do not take any supplements without first consulting with your physician.

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Vitamin C

Eating foods rich in vitamin C can help your body better absorb iron and build up your red blood cells more quickly. According to the National Institute of Health, adult males should ingest 90 mg of vitamin C each day, while adult women should aim for 75 mg each day. That level of vitamin C is easily obtained through dietary sources. A medium kiwi fruit or an orange both have 70 mg of vitamin C. Increase your consumption of vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as green or red peppers, and you can triple your iron absorption rates, according to the National Institutes of Health.

B Vitamins

Taking a B-complex supplement won't give you energy if you have low iron, but vitamin B-1 will help you better process carbohydrates for energy. Other B vitamins will help you process protein for energy and aid with your digestion. Vitamin B-12 supplements will help your energy level only if you have a B-12 deficiency in addition to low iron. In a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Hope Barkoukis, a registered dietitian, said that B vitamins "aren't little packets of energy." She went on to say, "It's true that the vitamins help unlock the energy in foods, but weary office workers can't expect to get a jolt from extra B vitamins in any form." Anemia caused by a vitamin B-12 deficiency is very different from iron-deficient anemia.

How Iron Functions

Iron is an important mineral and is found in every cell in your body. Your body needs iron to produce red blood cells and build strong muscles. A prolonged iron deficiency can lead to anemia, a serious condition whereby your body is deficient in red blood cells. If you have an iron deficiency, you may feel weak, tired, have headaches and have difficulty concentrating. In addition to taking supplements, boost your dietary intake of iron with red meat, eggs, beans, whole grains and green, leafy vegetables. Men age 19 and older should receive 8 mg of iron each day, according to the NIH. Women 19 to 50 should strive for 18 mg per day. At age 51 and older, women can reduce their iron intake to 8 mg each day.

Risk Factors

Women are at greater risk of developing iron deficiencies during their fertile years, especially if they experience heavy periods or have recently given birth. Vegans, vegetarians, people with gastrointestinal conditions and frequent blood donors are also at greater risk of iron deficiencies. Children may experience iron deficiencies during their early development and adolescent years due to growth spurts.

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