How to Take Iron Supplements With Dairy

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Iron is an essential component in red blood cells and assists in supplying oxygen throughout the body. Most people get plenty of iron through their diet without supplements, but some individuals are more likely to need extra iron. These include pregnant women as well as menstruating teens and women, people with certain digestive disorders and kidney dialysis patients. Some substances affect iron absorption, including calcium, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Avoid taking iron supplements along with dairy foods because dairy foods are high in calcium. Dairy foods include milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream. Low-fat as well as high-fat dairy affects the absorption of iron.

Eat dairy foods two or three hours before or after taking the iron supplement so the food does not interfere with iron absorption.

Be aware that dairy products are included in many processed foods, and you may need to avoid eating these foods at the same time you take your iron supplement. Read labels to discover which products include milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. Dairy products are commonly included in sauces, soups, salad dressings, certain granola and snack bars and more.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because calcium affects iron absorption, keep in mind that many other foods are high in calcium besides dairy including soybeans, kidney beans, spinach, almonds, sardines, salmon, oysters, and foods fortified with calcium, such as cereal and orange juice. Many antacids also contain calcium.

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