Taking iron supplements is a common practice to help treat or prevent iron deficiency anemia. However, one of the most common side effects of taking iron supplements is constipation. This can be uncomfortable and even painful for some individuals, making it difficult to continue taking their iron supplements. To alleviate this side effect, stool softeners are often recommended. In this blog post, we will explore the best stool softeners to take when taking iron supplements.
Why Does Iron Cause Constipation?
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the body’s production of red blood cells. It’s also important for the immune system, energy production, and many other bodily functions. However, when taken as a supplement, iron can cause constipation in some individuals.
This is because iron is poorly absorbed in the digestive system. When iron supplements are taken, a significant amount of iron remains in the intestines, where it can cause irritation and constipation. Additionally, iron supplements can change the composition of gut bacteria, leading to slower digestion and constipation.
What Are Stool Softeners?
Stool softeners are medications that help to reduce the hardness of stool, making it easier to pass. They work by drawing in water into the stool, making it softer and easier to move through the intestines. Unlike laxatives, stool softeners are gentle and do not stimulate bowel movements. Instead, they help to prevent constipation by keeping the stool soft.
Best Stool Softeners to Take with Iron Supplements
1. Docusate Sodium (Colace) – This is one of the most commonly recommended stool softeners for individuals taking iron supplements. It works by allowing water and fats to penetrate the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Docusate sodium is available over-the-counter and is usually well-tolerated by most people.
2. Magnesium Citrate – Magnesium citrate is a natural stool softener that can help to relieve constipation caused by iron supplements. It works by drawing water into the intestines, which softens the stool. Magnesium citrate is available over-the-counter and is safe for most people.
3. Psyllium Husk – Psyllium husk is a type of soluble fiber that can help to prevent constipation caused by iron supplements. It works by absorbing water and forming a gel-like substance that helps to soften the stool. Psyllium husk is available over-the-counter and is generally well-tolerated.
4. Mineral Oil – Mineral oil is a lubricant laxative that can help to prevent constipation caused by iron supplements. It works by coating the stool with a slippery substance, making it easier to pass. Mineral oil is available over-the-counter but should only be used for short periods.
Constipation is a common side effect of taking iron supplements. However, stool softeners can help to alleviate this issue by keeping the stool soft and easy to pass. Docusate sodium, magnesium citrate, psyllium husk, and mineral oil are all effective stool softeners to take when taking iron supplements. If you experience constipation while taking iron supplements, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which stool softener is right for you.
What stool softener should I take with iron pills?
Iron supplements are commonly prescribed for people with iron deficiency anemia. However, one of the side effects of taking iron pills is constipation. If you experience constipation while taking iron supplements, there are a few things that you can do to alleviate the problem. One of the things you can do is take a stool softener.
A stool softener is a medication that helps to make bowel movements easier to pass. It works by drawing water into the colon, which softens the stool and makes it easier to pass. There are many different types of stool softeners available over the counter, but the best one to take with iron pills is docusate sodium.
Docusate sodium is a gentle stool softener that is safe to use with iron supplements. It works by gently softening the stool to make it easier to pass without causing any discomfort or cramping. Docusate sodium is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and liquid drops, and it’s generally safe for most people to use.
When taking a stool softener with iron pills, it’s essential to follow the recommended dosage on the label carefully. Taking too much stool softener can lead to diarrhea, while taking too little might not have the desired effect. It’s also a good idea to avoid taking other laxatives while taking stool softeners, as they can interact and cause unwanted side effects.
If you experience constipation while taking iron supplements, consider taking a stool softener such as docusate sodium to make bowel movements easier to pass. Always follow the recommended dosage on the label and avoid taking other laxatives while taking stool softeners. If your constipation persists, it’s best to consult with your doctor for further guidance and treatment.
How can I get iron without constipation?
Iron is vital for our body to function properly, but sometimes taking iron supplements can lead to constipation. It is a common problem for those who are prescribed iron supplements for medical reasons, including anemia. However, there are a few ways to get iron without constipation.
One effective solution is to ask your doctor for a liquid form of iron supplement, such as the brand Feosol. Liquid iron supplements are easier on the digestive system than solid tablets, as they are more easily absorbed by the body and have a lower risk of causing constipation. You can also experiment by gradually lowering your dose until you get to a level that does not cause you constipation.
Another way to increase your iron intake without causing constipation is by changing your diet. You can eat iron-rich foods such as meat, seafood, and poultry, which are abundant sources of heme iron. Heme iron is much more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron found in plant-based sources like beans and dark leafy greens. It is also important to combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, bell peppers, and tomatoes, as vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.
Lastly, drinking plenty of water and staying active is important, as dehydration and inactivity can exacerbate constipation. Drinking enough fluids softens your stool, making it easier to pass, while regular exercise stimulates your intestinal muscles, helps food move through your digestive system, and promotes regular bowel movements.
Iron is an essential nutrient and extremely beneficial for our health, but taking supplements can lead to constipation. It is important to ask your doctor for a liquid form of iron supplement, change your diet to incorporate more iron-rich foods, combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods, drink enough fluids, and stay active to avoid constipation.
Can I take Colace and iron at the same time?
When considering taking both Colace and iron supplements at the same time, it is important to understand the potential interactions between these two medications. Colace, also known as docusate sodium, is a stool softener that works by increasing the water content and lubrication of stool, making it easier to pass. Iron supplements, on the other hand, are used to treat or prevent iron deficiency anemia. Iron is an essential mineral that helps to form red blood cells, carry oxygen throughout the body, and support immune system function.
While there is no direct interaction between Colace and iron supplements, it is generally recommended to separate the times at which these medications are taken. This is because certain substances, such as antacids, can interfere with the absorption of iron in the digestive tract. If you take an antacid containing aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, for example, it can prevent the absorption of iron by up to 50%. Similarly, taking Colace and iron supplements together may reduce the absorption of iron and hinder its effectiveness in treating iron deficiency anemia.
If you are taking both Colace and iron supplements, it is therefore important to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to take these medications. You should follow any instructions provided on the label of your iron supplement and take it at the recommended time each day. In general, it is best to take iron supplements on an empty stomach, or at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating. This will help to ensure maximum absorption of the iron in the digestive tract.
As for Colace, it is usually taken with a full glass of water and should not be taken within 2 hours of any other medications. It is important to note that taking too much Colace can potentially lead to diarrhea and electrolyte imbalances. Therefore, it is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions and not exceed the recommended dose.
While there is no direct interaction between Colace and iron supplements, it is generally recommended to separate the times at which these medications are taken to avoid interference with the absorption of iron. You should speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about taking these medications together or about the proper timing for taking them.