I overheard a customer talking to one of our staff this morning. He mentioned that he was having both knees replaced later this summer and that his surgeon recommended he take an iron supplement. This is a DANGEROUS suggestion.

One of my friends, a pharmacist, followed that advice and ended up in the ER twice within a few weeks with very low hemoglobin. He was probably bleeding internally. The iron supplements were claimed to be safe on his stomach. They weren’t. Instead of helping him, the iron pills all but killed him. His doctor shrugged when my friend told him about his experience.

Taking iron supplements “just in case” is as foolish as taking a statin drug every day. There is absolutely no need for an iron supplement in today’s world – unless the person has been diagnosed with a frank iron deficiency which had been proved by testing. NOTE: I often argue against testing, usually when the item being evaluated is a lipid (fat) soluble. Iron is water-soluble and serum testing can yield accurate results.

Food – especially red meat – will provide every microgram of iron a body would need. Vegans can successfully look to white beans, dark chocolate, soybeans (not on my favorite list for anything), lentils, or spinach (Popeye was no fool).

I will always carefully “wince” when someone tells me their doctor recommended iron supplements. I won’t be an alarmist but I will certainly suggest more iron-containing food and I’ll warn about problems associated with iron pills.

I will also explain that iron supplements often cause constipation, dark stools, stomach pain, nausea, and, vomiting.

We don’t stock “iron pills” at The Compounder – for good reason.