When iron is combined with certain foods it may lose much of its value. If you are taking iron, the following foods should be avoided, or only taken in very small amounts, for at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after you take iron:
- Cheese and yogurt
- Tea or coffee
- Whole-grain breads and cereals and bran
Do not take iron supplements and antacids or calcium supplements at the same time. It is best to space doses of these 2 products 1 to 2 hours apart, to get the full benefit from each medicine or dietary supplement.
If you are taking iron supplements without a prescription:
- Do not take iron supplements by mouth if you are receiving iron injections. To do so may result in iron poisoning.
- Do not regularly take large amounts of iron for longer than 6 months without checking with your health care professional. People differ in their need for iron, and those with certain medical conditions can gradually become poisoned by taking too much iron over a period of time. Also, unabsorbed iron can mask the presence of blood in the stool, which may delay discovery of a serious condition.
If you have been taking a long-acting or coated iron tablet and your stools have not become black, check with your health care professional. The tablets may not be breaking down properly in your stomach, and you may not be receiving enough iron.
It is important to keep iron preparations out of the reach of children. Keep a 1-ounce bottle of syrup of ipecac available at home to be taken in case of an iron overdose emergency when a doctor, poison control center, or emergency room orders its use.
If you think you or anyone else has taken an overdose of iron medicine:
- Call your doctor, a poison control center, or the nearest hospital emergency room at once. Always keep these phone numbers readily available.
- Follow any instructions given to you. If syrup of ipecac has been ordered and given, do not delay going to the emergency room while waiting for the ipecac syrup to empty the stomach, since it may require 20 to 30 minutes to show results
- Go to the emergency room without delay
- Take the container of iron with you.
Early signs of iron overdose may not appear for up to 60 minutes or more. Do not delay going to the emergency room while waiting for signs to appear.