Iron Supplements: FSA Eligibility
What is iron?
Iron is an essential mineral that transports oxygen throughout the body. Iron is a main component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that is responsible for taking oxygen from your lungs and bringing it to other parts of your body. Without enough iron, your body won’t be able to produce enough red blood cells, and therefore your body won’t get enough oxygen.
Iron also plays an important role in developing and maintaining healthy cells, as well as skin and hair. Children need more iron than adults as they grow. After that, women need more iron than men because of monthly menstruation beginning in adolescence. After menopause, women and men both need on average 8 milligrams a day of iron (WebMD).
Why do people take iron supplements?
Those with iron deficiencies (anemia) or who are not getting enough iron from their daily diet are recommended to take iron supplements. Iron is found naturally in shellfish, spinach, organ meat, legumes, red meat, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, turkey, broccoli and tofu. Iron levels tend to be higher in meat, so it is not unusual for a medical professional to recommend iron supplements to vegans or vegetarians (Healthline).
Prenatal vitamins tend to contain iron, but on occasion pregnant or breastfeeding mothers may also be recommended to take an iron supplement.
How much and how often should I take iron supplements?
Adults should not take more than 45 milligrams of iron a day. Children are more likely to overdose on iron supplements. Side effects of excessive iron consumption include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration and bloody stool (WebMD).