Best Iron Supplement UK – Expert Guide

Common symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, paleness, headaches and/or dizzy spells.  You may be able to address these by adjusting your diet, but you may find that it is more effective to take an iron supplement

The reason for this is that many iron-rich foods can be bad for your health in other ways.  For example, red meat is great for iron, but it’s often full of fat and hence high in calories.  There are plant-based sources of iron (e.g. lentils, pulses and seeds), but it can be hard to eat enough of them to get all the iron you need.

This is why iron supplements can be a useful addition to a healthy, balanced diet.  They can give you that extra boost you need to get you over the wire in terms of your daily iron intake.  The key point is to choose the best iron supplement for you.

Best Iron Supplement UK - Expert Guide

Working out how much iron you need

According to the NHS, daily recommended intake for adults is:

8.7mg a day for men over 18

14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50

8.7mg a day for women over 50

There is, however, some variability.  In particular, if you lead an active lifestyle, you may need more iron.  This is because iron plays a key role in the health of the red blood cells which transport oxygen around the body.

Iron is also important for children.  If you suspect a child has iron deficiency, then it’s advisable to see a doctor for guidance.

Iron supplements and constipation

Iron can be hard for the body to digest, hence the fact that iron supplements can be linked with constipation.  The key point to understand is that the format of the iron supplement has nothing to do with how digestible it is.  What matters is the specific type of iron.

Ferrous Bis-Glycinate (Chelate) is a particularly digestible form of iron.  It is often marketed as “gentle iron”.

Ferrous Sulphate releases its nutrients over a relatively long period.  This can make it easier for the body to process the flow of nutrients.  It is often marketed as “slow-release iron”.

Be aware that the type and quality of the iron used can make a huge difference to the effect of any iron supplement.  It’s generally what separates the best iron supplements from the rest of what’s on the shelf.

Iron supplements and other vitamins and minerals

Regardless of which form of iron supplement you want to use, you’ll generally have a choice between iron on its own or iron with other vitamins and minerals.  If you actually need the other vitamins and minerals, then it’s generally most convenient to take them all as one supplement. 

If, however, iron is all you need, then it’s pointless taking a multivitamin.  It can, however, make sense to take iron and vitamin C together as vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron.

By contrast, it’s best to avoid taking iron and calcium together because there is some evidence to suggest that calcium may hinder iron absorption. 

Ideally, you generally want to take your iron supplement with a meal so that your digestive system is active.

supplements

Choosing the best iron supplement for you

First of all, you need to choose whether you want to use a powder-based iron supplement or a liquid iron supplement.  Powder-based iron supplements are generally sold as tablets or capsules, although there are other options.  Liquid iron supplements generally have some form of flavouring to improve the taste.

Each format has its advantages and disadvantages.  This means that the best iron supplement for you is generally the one which fits best with your lifestyle.  Whichever option (or options) you choose, it’s important to be sure that you’re choosing a high-quality supplement.  This means doing your research and/or reading credible reviews.

Best Iron Supplement UK- Guide

Best iron supplements in the UK

Even though the UK market is much smaller than the U.S. there’s still a great range of high-quality iron supplements available.  Here’s a quick explanation of each of the main formats and our suggestions for the best iron supplements in the UK in each category.

Quick Jump To List

Tablets

Tablets are easy to manufacture, which means that they can be priced very affordably.  They also have a long shelf-life, so consumers can buy in bulk.  With tablets, the manufacturer takes care of all the measuring and dosing. 

All the consumer has to do is count the number of tablets they need and take them at the right time.  This makes them a great choice for people who value convenience over flexibility.

As a bonus, tablets are easy to store and transport.  They are fine at room temperature and as they’re dry, they’re leak-proof.

These days tablets tend to be shaped and sized to make them easy to swallow.  The best tablets will also have a coating to make them slide down more easily. 

A handy trick with iron tablets (in fact any tablets), is to put them under the tongue.  This triggers a reflex to dislodge them and that pushes them right to the back of the throat where they are easily washed down with water.

One point to remember is that a lot of iron tablets contain whey protein, which makes them unsuitable for vegans and may make them unsuitable for people with lactose intolerance.  We’ve included a vegan-friendly option.

Active Iron Non-Constipating Iron Tablets

Active Iron

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 14Mg Ferrous Sulphate (slow-release iron)
  • Other ingredients include whey (milk) protein and vitamin C

For those wondering about the calcium content in the milk protein, the manufacturer says that this is a refined whey protein.  This means that it has been through a process to remove the calcium and lactose.  According to the manufacturer, the Active Iron tablets contain only 0.00163g of calcium per 100g of powder.

In principle, this should mean that these iron tablets might be suitable for people with lactose intolerance, at least if it is on the mild side.  There are, however, other options available.

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£7.99 £15.99
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Floradix Iron Supplement Tablets

Floradix Iron Supplement

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 14mg Ferrous Gluconate (per dose of two tablets)
  • Other ingredients include lactose, vitamin C

The full ingredients list for this product is eye-watering.  It includes angelica root, carrot, fennel, ocean kelp, rose-hip dry extract and spinach leaves.  In short, if you want a multivitamin which happens to include a decent dose of iron, then this could be the option for you.

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Floradix Iron Supplement Tablets, Pack of 84 Tablets

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£8.19 £10.49
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Zipvit Vegan-Friendly Iron Tablets

Iron Tablets 14mg

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 14Mg Ferrous Fumarate

You’ll note the absence of “Other ingredients include”.  Basically, there are none worth mentioning.  This is essentially iron and nothing else.  We’d therefore suggest taking it with a meal which included plenty of vitamin C.  For the record, potatoes are a great source of vitamin C, especially if you leave their skins on.

We have to say that the bottle strikes us as being at least twice as big as necessary to hold the tablets, although we did reuse it for storage.  That minor gripe aside, however, these are an economical option for people who just want iron.  They’re also the only vegan-friendly option we managed to find.

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Capsules

Capsules have a lot in common with tablets, but they also have some important differences.  Firstly, capsules are not airtight, which means that they have a shorter shelf life.  This makes it less practical to buy them in bulk.  They are also more difficult to manufacture, which makes them more expensive. 

Lastly, a lot of capsules are still made with gelatine, although manufacturers are now, finally, starting to catch on that there are a lot of people who do not eat it and are getting better at producing alternatives. 

It’s now much easier to find vegetarian capsules.  Sadly, they tend to contain whey protein so may be unsuitable for anyone who is lactose intolerant.  Vegan capsules are more of a challenge, but there are some and we have included a vegan-friendly option.

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Active Iron Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Active Iron Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 17mg Ferrous Sulphate (slow-release iron)
  • Other ingredients include whey (milk) protein and vitamin C

We appreciate that this is a bit of a niche market but iron deficiency is a really common problem for women who are pregnant or nursing.  If left untreated, it can impact both mother and baby. Products intended for pregnant and nursing mothers need to be really gentle and this one gets it right.

As with the Active Iron tablets, it uses refined whey protein so there should be minimal calcium and lactose.

Solgar Gentle Iron 20mg and 25mg

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Solgar Gentle Iron 20 mg Vegetable Capsules - Pack of 90

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£10.99 £11.75
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Solgar-Gentle Iron® 20mg: 180 Vegetable Capsules

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£17.99 £19.99

Ferrous Bis-Glycinate (Chelate)

These capsules are suitable for vegans.  Check the listing carefully to make sure you are getting the dose you want.

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Vitabiotics Feroglobin Original

Vitabiotics Feroglobin Original - 30 Capsules

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 17mg Ferrous Fumarate
  • Other ingredients include gelatine

These capsules are designed for people who need a bit more iron than the standard 14mg dose.  It might benefit menstruating women, athletes and people with conditions related to iron deficiency.  The latter are advised to consult with a doctor before starting to take any supplements.

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Vitabiotics Feroglobin Original - 30 Capsules

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£3.63 £5.30

Liquids

Liquids are expensive to manufacture, which means they are expensive to buy.  They often need to be stored in a fridge and regardless of where you store them, you need to watch for leaks.  You also need to be careful when you pour them.  On the plus side, they allow for flexible dosing and are very easy just to swallow down.  That said, some of them can stain your teeth so try to put them straight onto your tongue.

If you have special dietary requirements, then it’s often easier to find a suitable liquid iron supplement than a suitable tablet iron supplement or capsule iron supplement because they don’t need to use binding agents.

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Blueiron Liquid Iron Supplement with Nordic Blueberries

Blueiron Liquid Iron Supplement with Nordic Blueberries

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 8.35mg Ferric Saccharate complex per 5ml teaspoonful
  • Suitable for vegans

If you like sweet flavours, then you’ll probably like the taste of this liquid iron supplement.  Be warned that it can stain your teeth so put it on your tongue.  We’re not thrilled about the bottle itself.  It looks pretty but we found it hard to get it open initially.  On the plus side, you only have to do that once.

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Blueiron Liquid Iron Supplement with Nordic Blueberries

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Nu U Nutrition Liquid Iron Supplement

Liquid Iron Supplement 1 Litre

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 7.5mg Ferrous Gluconate (per 10ml/2 teaspoon serving)
  • Other ingredients include red rice yeast, vitamin C

This is another product with an impressive list of ingredients.  This one includes apple, blackcurrant, cherry, grape, lemon, orange, pear and red beet juice along with carrot, spinach, rosehip and wheatgrass powder and bladderwrack, fennel seed and nettle leaf extract.  In other words, it’s an all-round pick-me-up which happens to include a good dose of iron.

Please note red rice yeast is generally considered to be vegan as eating it does not cause the organism any suffering.  Some vegans do, however, still choose to avoid it.  This product is suitable for vegetarians.

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Spatone Natural Liquid Iron Supplement

Spatone Natural Liquid Iron

PRODUCT DETAIL

  • 5mg Ferrous Sulphate
  • Other ingredients include apple concentrate, vitamin C

This product is basically sachets of iron-rich water from Trefriw Wells Spa in Snowdonia (Wales).  Although it has vitamin C added, it’s best taken with vitamin C rich foods.  A lot of people seem to add a sachet to orange juice.  There are, however, other options, for example taking it with a meal which includes potatoes, especially with their skins on.

As this product is basically water, it’s vegan-friendly.  It’s also the most convenient liquid iron supplement we’ve managed to find.

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£11.45 £13.49

Other formats

For completeness, we’ll add that if none of the main formats take your fancy, there are other options you can try.  We do have to warn you, however, that they tend to be spins on the main formats.  For example, caplets and softgels are basically capsules, but they’re marketed as being particularly easy to swallow.  Chewables are a cross between a capsule and a sweet. 

In short

Even if you eat a healthy diet, it can be challenging to get enough iron.  This is particularly true if you eat a plant-based diet.  Low iron levels often make you feel tired, dizzy and sick and can make you look pale.  If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then you may want to try taking an iron supplement.  If, however, the symptoms are particularly serious or if they continue when you are taking an iron supplement, please consult your doctor.

Andrew Ellis
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Jedi Master

Fitness, health, blogging and Psychology are my main interests. I’ve worked in many roles from product designer to engineer working with many products from fitness equipment and spa products to this role as a hands on webmaster. Avid gym going and captain of the good ship Poshh Living

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