Despite what older adults may have heard about “tired blood,” iron supplements may not be a good idea. Dietary iron is essential in the production of hemoglobin to make red blood cells, and insufficient iron can eventually lead to iron-deficiency anemia. With this in mind, dietitians generally recommend that children and pre-menopausal women take iron supplements because they are at relatively high risk of having low iron stores. Postmenopausal women and men, and older adults, in particular, are likely to have adequate iron supplies already. Women past childbearing age do not face the increased need for iron that pregnancy brings. Both men and women who take iron supplements face the possibility of an iron overload, which can be potentially damaging to the liver and heart. The Linus Pauling Institute cautions that the elderly should not take iron supplements unless they have been recommended to do so by their physician.
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