Can You Take Iron With Blood Thinners? Here’s What Happens

Posted May 10, 2021 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Medications can interact with each other, sometimes adversely. But supplements also have the potential to interact and interfere with medications. Can you take iron with blood thinners is one such question.

So, we’ll answer that question here, first in summary and then moving on to further explanations and more details.

Can you take iron with blood thinners? Those taking blood thinners run a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia. Iron binds with blood thinners and reduces its performance. Taking iron with blood thinners may also void the effects of iron supplements. Iron can also activate platelets that contrast with the function of blood thinners.

Before getting into the details, it’s important to get an overview of what iron and blood thinners are. Knowing this will give you a better understanding of whether you can take them together or not.

It will also give a better insight into the science behind the explanations.

Can you take iron with blood thinners – an overview

In order for us to understand if you can take iron with blood thinners, we need to have a basic understanding of each component. Here is an overview of each.

Iron

Can You Take Iron With Blood Thinners

Iron is a mineral that your body needs for growth and development. Also, your body needs iron to make hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen to the lungs and all the other parts of your body. 

Unlike many other elements in your body, iron cannot be made by your body. Instead, it is absorbed from the things you eat. The adult minimum requirement of iron daily is 1.8 mg.

In a typical western diet, a range from 5%-35% of the iron is absorbed and used by the body. So, in instances where you don’t include an iron-rich diet, your body may lack healthy iron levels.

This, in turn, will require you to take iron supplements to meet daily iron requirements. 

Blood thinners

Blood thinners – also called “anticoagulants,” are medications that reduce the blood’s ability to clot. Blood thinners also prevent any potential clots from getting larger and becoming an issue.

This ability to reduce blood from clotting or managing the blood clotting potential lowers the risk of a stroke.

Aside from this, blood thinners are used to treat other types of heart diseases, heart defects, and other conditions that can increase the risk of getting dangerous clots. 

Overall, blood thinners also help in the smooth flow of blood through your veins and arteries. 

How blood thinners affect iron

Iron deficiency is the common reason many consume iron supplements. 

Avoiding iron deficiency is important, as iron deficiency is where your body lacks the minimum requirement of iron. Iron supplements help your body to meet the minimum requirements.

One important aspect to note here is “People who are on blood thinners have a higher risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia.”

Taking blood thinners with iron may not be beneficial or can offset the effects of taking iron. Meaning, blood thinners can void the effects of iron supplements, as it increases the risk of causing iron deficiency anemia. 

How iron affects blood thinners

The primary concern with having iron with blood thinners is that iron will “bind” with blood thinners.

Especially blood thinners such as warfarin bind well with iron. This binding causes blood thinners, in general, to not work at their full potential.

Taking iron with blood thinners can decrease the absorption of blood thinners and thereby reduce their effectiveness.

This, in turn, can impact how well blood thinners can slow blood clotting.

Platelet activation

There is another indirect platelet activation mechanism through which iron can affect blood thinners.

Every time you have an injury that causes bleeding, your body forms a clot to stop the bleeding. Taking blood thinners may slow this process of clotting down. 

One of the first steps in forming a blood clot includes small blood cells called platelets

Platelets don’t thicken the blood to form clots, but they become “sticky” because as they get to the site of the injury, they grow sticky tentacles to help adhere to each other.

On the other hand, the activation of platelets – an important process in initiating a blood clot – secretes a compound that can stimulate the formation of a more stable blood clot. 

The problem with iron supplements is that irons can activate these platelets to support a more stable and quicker blood clotting.

This directly contrasts the function expected from blood thinners.

Meaning, while blood thinners are taken to slow down or prevent clotting to treat heart conditions, an iron supplement may enhance the ability to form clots quicker and in a more stable manner.

As such, taking iron with blood thinners may void the effects of blood thinners.

While that’s the explanation of how iron and blood thinners can affect each other, there are circumstances in which iron may benefit or even negate the reasons why someone might need blood thinners. 

Taking iron may reduce the need for blood thinners

Can You Take Iron With Blood Thinners

While there is no direct relationship between iron and blood thinners, looking to take iron with blood thinners does have an impact. It’s believed that low levels of iron can be one of the strongest clotting risk factors.

So, the lower the iron levels – the higher the chances of developing life-threatening blood clots.

Blood thinners are primarily taken to treat fatal blood clots. So, treating iron deficiency with iron supplements may avoid the need for you to use blood thinners.

In this case, the focus will have to be on taking iron supplements only to reduce the need for taking blood thinners, not taking both together.

Is it safe to take both together?

One very important question is, can you take iron supplements and blood-thinning medications together.

Following your healthcare provider’s advice and based on how each medication affects one another, you will likely not be instructed to take both iron supplements and blood thinners together.

Some may recommend that you could take each of these at least 3-4 hours apart to keep their effects from overlapping. However, this is not scientifically approved.

So, the general safe recommendation is not to take iron with blood thinners or vice versa unless your healthcare provider advises and approves it.

If you are considering taking them together, we strongly recommend you consult with your healthcare provider first.

Dietary changes

Before looking to take iron with blood thinners, one good alternative that is recommended is to change your diet.

Unless there is a particular issue with your ability to absorb iron in sufficient quantities, changing your diet to a more iron-rich one can help.

Iron is easily absorbed from the food you consume, so you can simply use this alternative to replace iron supplements with iron-rich food

If this enables you to maintain sufficient iron levels, you can take any blood thinners that you’re prescribed. This prevents two medications from interacting or overriding the effects of one another.

Closing

We hope this has helped in answering the question – can you take iron with blood thinners. As always, before making any changes, you should consult your healthcare provider. If you have prescriptions for any medications, then Prescription Hope may be able to help further…

If you’re having trouble affording any of your medications, enroll with us and see if you qualify to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications.



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