Do you need to take vitamin c with iron supplements?

Ah, the age-old question. Do you need to take vitamin C with iron supplements? The answer is not as straightforward as one might think. Let’s dive in!

What are Iron Supplements?

Iron supplements are used to treat and prevent iron deficiency anemia. Anemia occurs when there aren’t enough red blood cells being made due to low levels of iron in the body. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, and headaches.

The two types of iron supplements commonly prescribed by doctors are ferrous sulfate and ferric citrate.

Ferrous Sulfate

Ferrous sulfate contains 20% elemental iron per weight unit. It is usually taken once or twice a day on an empty stomach to increase absorption rates.

Ferric Citrate

Ferric citrate contains a higher percentage of elemental iron than ferrous sulfate: about 25%. The suggested dosage varies from person-to-person depending on their medical history.

For those who prefer natural sources for their daily intake of vitamins, common sources include poultry meat (such as chicken), seafood (such as clams), beans (such as lentils) etc.

Why Do You Need Iron and Vitamin C Together?

It depends! Firstly it’s important not just to consume adequate amounts of minerals, but also that our bodies can absorb them properly.

Our bodies have two types of dietary iron; heme-iron which comes from animal-sourced foods like non-vegetarian diet- red meat beef/ lamb/ pork OR plant-based food items eg kale/spinach/lentils/brown rice) /non-heme which is found in plant-sourced foods such as beans, nuts/seeds & green leafy veggies). Our bodies easily absorb heme-iron whereas most people struggle with non-heme source consumption – this challenges your ability for proper absorption.

While our bodies love iron, it can be difficult to absorb on its own. Vitamin C can help with that.

Vitamin C assists in the absorption of non-heme iron (from plant sources). It does this by chemically changing ferric ions in dietary minerals into a ferrous state that the body can more easily absorb. The amount of vitamin C needed differs from person-to-person depending on their needs, but generally 100-200 mg is recommended for each serving.

For Non-Heme Iron

Non-heme iron is found mostly in plant-based foods such as beans and nuts. To maximize absorption make sure to pair these foods with those high in vitamin c including:

  • Lemons
  • Kiwis
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries

When Do You Not Need Vitamin C?

If you’re taking a supplement containing heme iron or if your diet already meets your daily requirement for vitamin c there’s no need to worry about supplementing further.

Side Effects/ Risks worth considering

It’s important not to consume too much Vitamin-C either! Excess amounts are excreted through urine yet consuming more than 2,000 milligrams according to public authorities like NIH[1]does have complications which prior research has indicated range from stomach upset & bloating; diarrhea.1

Equally cautionary should be exercised towards excessive consumption of Iron supplements consumed as over dosage could lead negative effectson your overall health particularly chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular disease and cancer especially colon cancer) risks increase when people ingest possibly toxic amounts[^2].

Other common side effects may include constipation or an upset stomach.


So do you need to take vitamin C with iron supplements? It depends!

Pairing non-heme sources with vitamin-c rich fruits help optimize mineral nutrient availability .

If you’re getting enough heme iron in your diet, you may not need extra vitamin C.

Moderate supplementing of 100-200 mg of Vitamin-C serves well to help people consume enough non-heme: The quantities best suited for individuals are most often regulated depending on the needs assessed by a healthcare specialist.

Remember to be mindful when taking Vitamin-C or Iron supplements as over-consumption can lead to negative side effects.

Are you feeling anemic? Do you think it’s one of these common symptoms we mentioned earlier? It doesn’t hurt (hopefully) just trying incorporating a little more red meat or fish & vegetarian sources(beans/lentils/nuts/seeds) into your daily/weekly meals and let us know how it goes!

Have any suggestions or thoughts regarding the article? Let us know below!



  1. National Institute Of Health – NIH[] 

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