2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Knowledge Base

Welcome to our extensive library of articles on health concerns and ailments, alternative therapies, nutritional supplements, and much more. Please mouse over the letters to get started. We hope you enjoy browsing.


What Is It?

Iron, a trace Mineral, supplies energy to every cell in the body. It is a key component of Hemoglobin, the blood’s oxygen-carrying pigment. Iron is also found in myoglobin, which supplies oxygen to muscles, and in compounds that keep the immune system strong. This mineral is critical to sharp mental functioning. Even slight deficiencies in iron can shorten attention span and make concentration difficult.

Normally, the body gets sufficient amounts of iron from the foods you eat. It manages to self-regulate itself, storing amounts you will need by automatically absorbing more iron when the need is high, and less when levels are adequate. Nonetheless, iron deficiency is still a significant public health problem. It can occur during periods of rapid growth–infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy–which increase the body’s demand for this mineral. In addition, women who menstruate heavily tend to have lower iron levels.

A chronically iron-poor diet or any condition characterized by prolonged bleeding (even of small amounts), such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, and rectal polyps, can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. Many people develop this type of anemia, for instance, as a consequence of an NSAID-related ulcer, or one caused by months or years of regularly taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Government statistics indicate that 11% of women under age 50 and 9% of adolescents are iron-deficient. Dieters, some vegetarians, and endurance athletes may also develop iron deficiency due to the unique demands on their bodies.

Health Benefits

If iron-deficiency anemia develops, the body has to struggle to absorb sufficient amounts of oxygen. This is the most common type of anemia. At its most severe, however, or in the presence of certain other debilitating illnesses, iron-deficiency anemia can be life-threatening. Thankfully, it is relatively easy to treat.

If your doctor has diagnosed an iron deficiency, then iron supplements can help.

Specifically, iron may help to:

Correct iron-deficiency anemia. When iron stores are too low, the lack of oxygen produces debilitating fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Iron supplementation can correct the condition. (The underlying causes of bleeding should be medically treated as well, of course.) Bear in mind that a wide range of other medical conditions and other nutritional deficiencies, such as a shortage of folic acid, might also cause these symptoms. So never take iron supplements without medical advice.

Dosage Information

Special Tips:

–To boost the amount of iron your body absorbs, take the supplement with small amounts of meat or with foods and drinks rich in Vitamin C, such as broccoli or orange juice. For the same reasons, it’s also smart to take an iron supplement along with your daily multivitamin. Vitamin A and the trace mineral molybdenum also aid iron absorption.

–Have your doctor test your blood levels in a month or two; never take iron for more than six months without retesting, so that iron overload can be avoided.

For iron deficiency anemia, ask your doctor about the most appropriate dose for your needs.

Guidelines for Use

Take iron supplements with meals to minimize the chance of stomach upset. Taking the supplement with traditional breakfast foods may not be the best choice, however; even though vitamin C enhances iron absorption, coffee can interfere with it. Soy Protein isolates, often used in fruit “smoothies,” can also reduce iron absorption.

Calcium as well as large doses of chromium can interfere with iron absorption, so take these supplements at least two hours apart from iron.

General Interaction

Iron supplements can interfere with the action of a number of medications, including thyroid Hormone drugs, statins (to lower cholesterol), certain antibiotics, and various Parkinson’s disease drugs. So be sure to tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking in addition to your regular medications.

Possible Side Effects

Iron supplements can cause stools to become dark green or black in color; this is caused by any unabsorbed iron and is harmless.


Doses of iron higher than the tolerable upper daily intake level (UL) of 45 mg can cause nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Very high doses can be fatal. As important as iron is to a healthy body, too much is not a good thing, either. You should only take supplemental iron if a blood test identifies a true deficiency. In an estimated one million Americans, an inherited (and often undetected) disorder called hemachromatosis is present, in which too much iron is absorbed. Iron overload such as this can contribute to health problems such as heart disease. Keep iron-containing supplements out of the reach of children. As few as five high-potency iron tablets can be fatal for a small child. Check the labels of any multivitamin and mineral supplements you take, and add up the amounts to be sure you’re not accumulating too much iron in your total daily intake.

For product recommendations and orders click here for the Natural Apothecary or call 773-296-6700, ext. 2001.

Leave a Comment

  1. Tina Hepworth says:

    My ferritin is 16;iron sat%, 11; serum iron 37.Hb OK. I have considerable inflammation in my GI tract and some flecks of blood(per endoscopy) . I have been very fatigued for months, but my PCP and GI, say my iron’s fine because I’m not anemic, and it’s in the ‘normal range’! I am(was) very fit, BMI 24, eat a whole foods diet, exercise and..am post menopausal.
    I don’t think this is fine at all-it’s basically in the bottom 2.5% of the population and the next stage WILL be anemia if I don’t boost my iron stores, as they are virtually absent! Do you have any advice please-I keep getting told iron deficiency doesn’t cause symptoms, but, I know it does with me! Thank-you

  2. Dr E says:

    Iron depletion very definitely causes symptoms. This is more recognized in the UK than in the US. Here’s an article on the subject

  3. tina hepworth says:

    That article was v. helpful!

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!


Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our


The Knowledge Base


Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!


Upcoming Workshops

The Next Lyme Academy Begins
Tuesday, October 4, 5:30-7 pm
Here’s a special invitation for patients of Dr. Kelley who are currently being treated for Lyme disease. Dr. Kelley’s new, four-week Lyme Academy starts on October 4, continuing over the following three Tuesdays.


Awakened Body, Quiet Mind
An innovative workshop series for relieving mind/body stress and tapping into your true power and natural health.
4 Group Sessions with Meghan Roekle, PsyD
Four meetings using a unique combination of embodiment meditation and mental inquiry for deep healing.
Thursdays from 6:00-8:00pm; beginning October 20th

Recent Health Tips

  • Tired All The Time? Useful Info and Two Supplements

    Tired All The Time? Useful Info and Two Supplements

    As you might expect, fatigue is a fairly common reason people visit doctors. Feeling tired is vague symptom and can be linked to dozens of possible diagnoses, plus there’s a need to differentiate between physical fatigue and mental fatigue (brain fog) or consider both. When …Read More »
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

    I’d been reading Ally Hilfiger’s new autobiography Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me, preferring the Lyme parts to those devoted to fashion and her MTV “Rich Girl” series. Her symptoms were typical of chronic Lyme and …Read More »

October Sale: 20% Off Urban Moonshine Products


All Urban Moonshine products are 20% off for the entire month of October!

Urban Moonshine creates beautiful herbal formulas that focus on prevention, improving quality of life, and empowering people to create home herbal apothecaries.  More>>