Iron Phosphate Supplements
There are 2 types of dietary iron, haem and non-haem. Haem comes from meat, fish and poultry and non-haem comes in small amounts from beans, lentils, cereals, grains, green leafy vegetables and nuts. This form of iron is not absorbed as well as haem iron. Iron metabolism differs from that of other minerals in that there is no body excretion mechanism for iron excretion. 90% of the body’s iron is obtained from the normal breakdown of circulating red blood cells.
Iron deficiency is measured from serum ferritin levels in the blood and according to the World Health Organisation is the most prevalent mineral deficiency affectingmore than 2 billion people globally.
Between 5-10% non-haem iron is absorbed and iron absorption is optimised with Vitamin C. Several factors influence iron absorptionBody stores of iron – iron absorption increases when body stores of iron are low. When body stores are high, absorption decreases to prevent the body having a toxic overload of iron. This body iron regulation is faulty in people who have the metabolic disorder, hemochromatosis.
Tannins found in tea, calcium, polyphenols and phytates (substances that bind to certain minerals, found in cereals and legumes) all decrease absorption of iron.
Iron supplementation is given when the diet alone cannot restore blood iron levels fast enough, especially if clinical symptoms of deficiency are evident.
Iron supplements should only be given when there is iron deficiency, which should be monitored with blood ferritin levels as unnecessary iron supplementation can lead to oxidative stress.
Post-menopausal women are less likely to need iron supplements and iron should always be kept out of reach of children.
Bioavailability of Iron compounds
The bioavailability of an iron compound is determined by its solubility in the hydrochloric acid of the stomach. The most commonly used preparation of iron for supplements is iron sulphate. However common side effects of this are constipation. For this reason Metabolics supplies Ionic Iron from iron sulphate already in its dissociated form for ease of absorption.
The iron phosphate compound is less well absorbed than the ferrous sulphate but absorption is enhanced significantly if taken with Vitamin C. It is believed to reduce the ferric iron to its ferrous state, chelating the iron into its absorbable form increasing absorption between 2-4x
This form of iron is best taken away from grains and legumes that contain phytates.