Iron (Oral)

Medication Information Leaflet

What is this medication used for?

Iron is a type of mineral naturally found in some foods that helps the body to produce red blood cells. It is used to treat or prevent iron deficiency anemia, a condition that occurs when the body has insufficient healthy red blood cells to provide oxygen to the body. Iron deficiency anemia may be due to a poor diet, excessive bleeding (e.g. heavy menses), or as a result of other medical problems (e.g. chronic kidney problems). 

During pregnancy, iron supplementation helps meet the increased iron needs of both the mother and the developing baby.

Iron supplements may be available on its own (e.g. Iron Polymaltose), or as a combination product (e.g. Iron Gluconate Co).

How should I take/use the medication?

  • Take this medication as prescribed by your healthcare professional
  • Do not stop taking your medications without checking with your healthcare professional 
  • This medicine should be taken before food, on an empty stomach, for better absorption. However, for iron polymaltose drops/tablets, it should be taken with or after food for better absorption.

What should I do if I forget to take/use this medication?

If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only the usual dose. Do not double your dose or use extra medication to make up for the missed dose. 

What precautions should I take?

Inform your healthcare professional if:

  • You are allergic to this medication, or any of the other ingredients in this medication
  • You have a medical condition called thalassaemia, a type of blood disorder
  • You have a medical condition called haemochromatosis where there is a high iron level in the body 
  • You are taking any other medications, including supplements, traditional medications and herbal remedies

What are some common side-effects of this medication?

  • Stomach upset or vomiting
    • If these side effects occur when the medication is taken on an empty stomach, take it with meals or a snack instead
  • Constipation
    • Drink more water (unless you have water intake restriction or advised otherwise by your healthcare professional) and eat more high- fibre foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains
  • Darkening of stools
    •  This side effect is harmless

What are some rare but serious side-effects that I need to seek medical advice immediately?

The symptoms of a drug allergy include one or more of the following: 
  • Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Itchy skin rashes over your whole body

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop your medication and see your healthcare professional immediately. 

What food or medication should I avoid when taking this medication?

Space iron supplements 2 hours apart from milk and other calcium rich foods or supplements.

Do not take iron supplements and certain medications such as antacids, antibiotics (e.g. Quinolones - Ciprofloxacin, Tetracyclines), medications used to treat Parkinson's disease (e.g. Levodopa), or Levothyroxine at the same time. It should be spaced at least 2 to 4 hours apart. You may check with your healthcare professional for more information.

How should I store the medication?

Store in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Keep this medication away from children. Throw away all expired medications. 

How should I throw away this medication safely?

Pack this medication into a black trash bag and seal it tightly before throwing into the rubbish chute or bin.  

Please take note that the above is not a complete list of all possible side effects. If you have any concerns about your medication or if you have other side effects that you think are caused by this medication, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

If you take more than the recommended dose, please seek medical advice immediately. The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.

Last updated on December 2022

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