A Supplements Guide: What You Need to Stay Healthy
Iron SupplementsThe Claim: Every woman needs an iron supplement because we lose so much blood during our periods.
The Big Picture: Most women lose around 35 milliliters of blood (about two tablespoons) during a four- to six-day period. It's when you start losing more than 80 ml that you may be at risk for anemia. However, vegetarians (or those who rarely eat meat) and women who have heavy periods should talk to their doctor about taking a supplement that contains iron, says Roberta Anding, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Everyone needs different amounts, and you can easily get too much, says Anding. High doses can hinder the absorption of other minerals, plus have unpleasant side effects such as constipation. The RDA for iron is 18 mg, and the upper limit is 45 mg a day. A quick way to tell if you may be lacking: Pull down your lower eyelid; if the color of the inner rim is pale pink or whitish, you may be anemic.
Bottom Line: If you think you're iron-deficient, see your doctor, who will do a blood test to determine if and how you should supplement. In the meantime, eat more iron-rich foods, including dark, leafy green vegetables and lean ground beef.
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