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iron (as ferrous gluconate) (generic name)

an iron product - treats Therapy for anemia after orthopedic surgery, ACE inhibitor-associated cough, Iron deficiency anemia, Anemia of chronic...
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Alternate Title

Fe, Ferrous sulfate, Ferrous gluconate


Herbs & Supplements


Atomic number 26, carbonyl iron, dextran-iron, elemental Iron, FE, Fer, ferrous carbonate anhydrous, ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous pyrophosphate, ferrous sulfate, iron dextran, iron-polysaccharide, iron sorbitol, Iron sucrose, sodium ferric gluconate.

Selected U.S. brand names: DexFerrum®, Femiron®, Feosol Caplets®, Feosol Tablets®, Feostat®, Feostat Drops®, Feratab®, Fer-gen-sol®, Fergon®, Fer-In-Sol Drops®, Fer-In-Sol Syrup®, Fer-Iron Drops®, Fero-Gradumet®, Ferospace®, Ferralet®, Ferralet Slow Release®, Ferralyn Lanacaps®, Ferra-TD®, Ferretts®, Ferrlecit®, Fumasorb®, Fumerin®, Hemocyte®, Hemofer®, Hytinic®, InFeD®, Ircon®, Mol-Iron®, Nephro-Fer®, Niferex®, Niferex-150®, Nu-Iron®, Nu-Iron 150®, Simron®, Slow Fe®, Span-FF®, Venofer®.


Iron is an essential mineral and an important component of proteins involved in oxygen transport and metabolism. Iron is also an essential cofactor in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. About 15 percent of the body's iron is stored for future needs and mobilized when dietary intake is inadequate. The body usually maintains normal iron status by controlling the amount of iron absorbed from food.

There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Sources of heme iron include meat fish and poultry. Sources of non-heme iron, which is not absorbed as well as heme iron, include beans, lentils, flours, cereals, and grain products. Other sources of iron include dried fruit, peas, asparagus, leafy greens, strawberries, and nuts.

The World Health Organization considers iron deficiency to be the largest international nutritional disorder. Although much of the ethnic disparity in iron deficiency anemia remains unexplained, socioeconomic factors may be involved.

Iron deficiency can be determined by measurement of iron levels within the body, mainly serum ferritin levels, which can also help distinguish between iron deficiency anemia and anemia associated with chronic disease.

Herbal preparations such as yellow dock root may be used in iron deficiency, although scientific evidence may be lacking.


DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Anemia of chronic disease: Taking iron orally with epoetin alfa (erythropoietin, EPO, Epogen®, Procrit®) is effective for treating anemia associated with chronic renal failure and chemotherapy.
Grade: A

Iron deficiency anemia: Ferrous sulfate (Feratab®, Fer-Iron®, Slow-FE®) is the standard treatment for treating iron deficiency anemia. Dextran-iron (INFeD®) is given intravenously by healthcare providers to restore adequate iron levels in bone marrow when oral iron therapy has failed.
Grade: A

ACE inhibitor-associated cough: Taking iron orally seems to inhibit cough associated with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, such as captopril (Capoten®), enalapril (Vasotec®), and lisinopril (Prinivil®, Zestril®).
Grade: B

Preventing iron deficiency in menstruating women: Iron supplementation has been shown to improve iron status in menstruating women.
Grade: B

Prevention of iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy: Iron supplements have been shown to help prevent iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women. Anemia in pregnant women is associated with adverse outcomes such as low birth weight, premature birth, and maternal mortality. Screening by a qualified healthcare provider is needed. Low doses are generally well tolerated and associated with better compliance.
Grade: B

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Based on preliminary data, taking iron orally might improve symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). More study is necessary before a conclusion can be drawn.
Grade: C

Fatigue in women with low ferritin levels: Ferrous sulfate may improve fatigue primarily in women with borderline or low serum ferritin concentrations. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Grade: C

Improving cognitive performance related to iron deficiency: Taking iron by mouth seems to improve cognitive function related to iron deficiency in iron-deficient children and adolescents. Further research is needed to confirm the potential benefit of iron in this indication. Iron supplements are not recommended for improving cognitive performance in non-iron deficient people.
Grade: C

Lead toxicity: Iron deficiency may increase the risk of lead poisoning in children. However, the use of iron supplementation in lead poisoning should be reserved for those individuals who are truly iron deficient or for those individuals with continuing lead exposure, such as continued residence in lead-exposed housing.
Grade: C

Preventing anemia associated with preterm/low birth weight infants: Further study of prenatal iron supplementation is needed before a firm recommendation can be made regarding the effects of anemia on preterm/low birth weight infants.
Grade: C

Preventing iron deficiency in exercising women: Preliminary studies suggest that iron supplementation can reverse mild anemia after exercise, improve energy, and enhance performance. However, other studies disagree. Further research is needed in this area before firm recommendations can be made.
Grade: C

Prevention of iron deficiency after blood donation: The results of early study indicate that elemental iron can adequately compensate for iron loss in males and females who donate whole blood up to four (females) or six times per year (males).
Grade: C

Prevention of iron deficiency anemia due to gastrointestinal bleeding: Intravenous high-dose iron sucrose therapy in patients with iron deficiency anemia due to gastrointestinal blood loss appears to be safe and therefore is a therapeutic option that may save time and improve patient compliance. More study is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Treatment of predialysis anemia: Adequate iron supplementation may be beneficial as an adjunct therapy with erythropoietin in the treatment of predialysis anemia. Predialysis anemia should be treated by a qualified healthcare provider. More study is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Therapy for anemia after orthopedic surgery: Early study reports that iron taken after elective hip or knee replacement surgery does not result in higher hemoglobin after surgery or a faster rate of increase in hemoglobin than placebo.
Grade: D


WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Anemia in anorexia nervosa, arm tremor, athletic performance enhancement, canker sores, Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, depression, enhanced immune function, fatigue, female infertility, growth, menorrhagia (abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding), pagophagia (compulsive eating of ice), prevention of anemia in blood donors, restless leg syndrome.


Adults (18 years and older)

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for males (19- 50 years) is 8 milligrams per day; females (19- 50 years) 18 milligrams per day; adults (51 years and older) 8 milligrams per day; pregnant women (all ages) 27 milligrams per day; breastfeeding women (19 years and older) 9 milligrams per day.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults (19 years and older) is 45 milligrams per day.

The RDA for iron from a completely vegetarian diet should be adjusted as follows: 14 milligrams per day for adult men and postmenopausal women, 33 milligrams per day for premenopausal women, and 26 milligrams per day for adolescent girls.

Doses ranging from 60 to 180 milligrams of elemental iron have been used for iron deficiency/anemia. Dextran-iron (INFeD®) is given by healthcare providers to replenish depleted iron stores in the bone marrow where it is incorporated into hemoglobin. The usual adult dose is 2 milliliters per day (100 milligrams iron).

Children (younger than 18 years)

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 11 milligrams for 7-12 months; 7 milligrams for 1-3 years; 10 milligrams for 4-8 years; 8 milligrams for 9-13 years (male and female); 11 milligrams for males 14-18 years; 15 milligrams for females 14-18 years; 27 milligrams for pregnant females 14-18 years; 10 milligrams for breastfeeding females 14-18 years. For infants 0-6 months, 0.27 milligrams is recommended as the adequate intake level (AI), which is used when RDA cannot be determined.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for infants (1-12 months) is not possible to establish; the UL for children (1-13 years) is 40 milligrams per day; the UL for adolescents (14-18 years) is 45 milligrams per day.

Dextran-iron (INFeD®) is an intravenous preparation given by qualified healthcare provider to replenish depleted iron stores in the bone marrow where it is incorporated into hemoglobin. Doses of 50 milligrams iron (1 milliliter) (5-10 kilograms) and 100 milligrams iron (2 milliliters) (10-50 kilograms) have been used.


DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.


Iron is a trace mineral and hypersensitivity is unlikely. Avoid if known allergy/hypersensitivity to products containing iron.

Side Effects and Warnings

In general, people with a history of kidney disease, intestinal disease, peptic ulcer disease, enteritis, colitis, pancreatitis, hepatitis, who consume excessive alcohol, plan to become pregnant, or are over age 55 and have a family history of heart disease should consult a doctor and pharmacist before taking iron.

Liquid oral iron preparations can possibly blacken teeth.

Acute overdosage or iron accumulation symptoms may include arthritis, signs of gonadal failure (amenorrhea, early menopause, loss of libido, impotence), and shortness of breath/dyspnea. High doses may cause vomiting and diarrhea followed by cardiovascular or metabolic toxicity and death. It is unclear whether high levels are associated with cancer, coronary heart disease, or myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack).

Gastrointestinal upset, including nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and dark stools, has been reported. Gastrointestinal side effects are relatively common and corrective bowel regimens such as increasing dietary fiber or over the counter medication might be recommended to balance these side effects. Supervision by a qualified healthcare provider is recommended.

Individuals with blood disorders who require frequent blood transfusions are also at risk of iron overload and should not take iron supplements without direction by a qualified healthcare provider. Long-term use of high doses of iron can cause hemosiderosis that clinically resembles hemochromatosis. Iron overload is associated with several genetic diseases including hemochromatosis (a defect in iron metabolism with build up of iron in the body). The most commonly associated early hemochromatosis symptoms include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, abdominal pain, and arthralgia (joint pain). Iron overload is possible in very low birth weight infants after multiple blood transfusions due to increase liver iron concentration. Prenatal iron-overload might contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease, but further studies are needed to confirm the assumption. Accumulation of excess iron is being investigated as a potential contributor to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

HCV infection and iron loading may aggravate oxidative stress in dialysis patients.

A case of hypersiderosis (uncontrollable sweating) has been reported with long-term iron supplementation in uremic patients treated with periodic dialysis.

One study indicates that higher consumption of total red meat, especially various processed meats, may increase risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should seek guidance from a qualified healthcare provider before taking dietary supplements. Iron status of the pregnant woman should be measured early (before the 15th week of gestation) and iron supplements should be given as selective prophylaxis based on the serum ferritin level.

FDA Pregnancy Category B: Usually safe but benefits must outweigh the risks.

FDA Pregnancy Category C: Safety for use during pregnancy has not been established for replenishing depleted iron stores in the bone marrow where it is incorporated into hemoglobin.

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