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How is iron deficiency treated?

There are several ways of treating anemia due to iron deficiency. The first is to supplement the diet with iron, such as by adding iron-rich foods to the diet (red meats, fish, some seafood, fortified cereals, eggs, dark leafy vegetables such as spinach) and other foods that have folate, vitamin C and vitamin B-12. These vitamins are also need in the production of red cells and may be in short supply once red cell production is stimulated by making iron more available. We usually recommend taking folate and vitamin C whenever we recommend treatment with iron.

A second way to give iron supplements is oral administration of iron tablets. This is an inexpensive way to increase a patient’s intake of iron, but many people develop gastrointestinal (GI) upset from use of oral iron tablets. Tell your doctor if you cannot tolerate the GI side effects of oral iron so that iron may be provided by the third method, intravenous infusion. Intravenous infusion of iron is more expensive, but is a much faster way to replace iron losses.  

Another important part of treating anemia — perhaps the most important part — is to identify any causes of internal bleeding and stop the bleeding.

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