Iron supplement side effects can range from mild to severe. Understanding the effects this type of supplement can have on the body can help you determine when medical treatment is in order. Iron is important to the body because it helps build the hemoglobin that delivers oxygen to the tissues. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness, infections, headaches and cold hands and feet. When you take iron to replenish your reserves, watch out for these iron supplement side effects.
- Gastrointestinal problems. When you use iron supplements, it’s not uncommon to experience constipation, dark stools, upset stomach, diarrhea and nausea. These iron supplement side effects are short-lived and usually disappear after your body gets used to the pills.
- Allergic reaction and discoloration of the teeth. If you have an allergic reaction to iron supplements you may experience skin irritation, itching, tightness of the chest, convulsions, difficulty breathing and swelling of the mouth, throat, lips or tongue. When iron is taken in liquid form, it can blacken the teeth.
- Iron toxicity. Iron overload is a serious iron supplement side effect that happens when you take too much of this element. Iron toxicity can increase the risk of liver disease, diabetes mellitus, heart failure, heart attack, hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and metabolic syndrome. Signs of iron toxicity may include chronic fatigue, hair loss, joint pain, irregular heart rhythm, grayish-green skin, depression, abdominal pain, decreased sex drive, impotence and enlarged liver or spleen.
Mild iron supplement side effects such as gastrointestinal problems may simply require you to adjust your dosage or change the type of supplements you take. Iron toxicity and allergic reactions, however, require immediate medical attention. Talk to your doctor about any iron-related side effects you may experience.