If you find yourself wondering why you are taking enough iron but you are still iron deficient, you may be taking the wrong type of iron. There are two types of iron. One is ionic iron which is manufactured in a laboratory from chemicals and the other is Heme Iron which is manufactured inside living organisms and is found in meats. Heme Iron absorbs far better than does ionic iron.
How does this relate to your iron supplement? The USDA publishes RDA’s based on the amount of a vitamin or mineral that you should ingest daily in order to maintain healthy levels. According to the Institutes of Medicine version the RDA of Iron includes a very important footnote (click on Elements Table .pdf file at bottom of page). That footnote says that the RDA “assumes” that you are getting 75% of that daily Iron intake amount from Heme Iron sources. So, if the iron in your supplement is ionic iron (virtually all of them are) the RDA really doesn’t mean anything relative to the iron supplement you are taking. Thus, it is very easy to be taking an iron supplement that supposedly meets the RDA, but still be low in iron, because not enough of the ionic iron is absorbing into the bloodstream to meet your body’s demand for iron.
The only sure way to ingest enough absorbable iron is to take a Heme Iron supplement. Furthermore you need to make sure that in your supplement the total number of milligrams of elemental iron in the form of Heme Iron is high enough to meet at least 75% of the RDA of Iron. There is only one supplement that contains 100% of its iron in the form of Heme Iron. That iron supplement is Proferrin®, and it contains a proprietary Heme Iron called Heme Iron Polypeptide. You will easily obtain the remaining 25% in the form of inorganic iron found in other foods such as enriched flours or grains used to make breads and cereals.
Below is a table which lists the RDA’s with an adjoining column that shows 75% of the RDA of Iron. Remember, according to the IOM 75% of your daily intake must be in the form of Heme Iron for this table to be useful.
|Gender||USDA – RDA||75% of RDA (Heme Iron)|
|Males||8 – 11 mg. (age dependent)||6 – 8.25 mg.|
|Females||8 – 18 mg. (age dependent)||6 – 13.5 mg.|
|Pregnancy||27 mg.||20.25 mg.|