HEME IRON AS FOOD SUPPLEMENTATION. Excellence in in Iron Tolerance and EffIcacy

Low levels common

Iron is an important part of the red blood cells that carry oxygen to all the cells of the body. Our bodies contain 4-5 grammes of iron. It may be difficult to get enough of this important nutrient unless meat courses are part of the diet.

Fruit, cereals and vegetables contain relatively little of useful iron. If you’re suffering from low iron, no amount of vitamins or any other supplement is going to change it.

Low iron levels are very common, especially for fertile females. There are also many chronics that need continual supplementation for different reasons.

Only two kinds of iron.

All dietary iron comes from the food we eat

There are only two kinds of iron that we can use; heme iron from meat, poultry or fish and non-heme iron from vegetables, dairy products or chemically bonded iron in synthetic supplements.

Heme iron is taken up along the whole gastro- intestinal tract (not only the first part) and, unlike non-heme iron, absorption is not affected by other chelating components of the diet such as phytates, tannates and phosphate.

Heme iron uptake is 20 – 40 % as opposed to non-heme iron uptake, only 2 -4 %

Non-heme iron in supplements

Most iron supplements are synthetic

Different iron salts and other synthetic artificial/chemical iron compounds have traditionally been used as supplementation with mixed results.

The uptake is only 2-4 % and there are often tolerance problems. However, since iron is essential for life the alternatives are blood transfusions or intravenously given iron. Both, however have negative sides except being very costly and uncomfortable for the patient.

The clinical use of blood transfusion is associated with risks that can cause morbidity and mortality. Intravenous iron injections cause periods of exacerbation of oxidative stress in the circulation.

Non-heme iron difficulties

Non-heme iron: side-effects common

Many oral iron supplementation treatments fail because synthetic iron compounds produce painful and uncomfortable gastro-intestinal side-effects sooner or later.

Non-heme iron supplements at 100 mg Fe++ per dose regularly have an incidence of side-effects leading to termination of the therapy of around 30 %.

Dosage and procedures around it may also be complicated and inconvenient.

Heme iron

Heme iron has always been natural for man

Heme iron is found mainly in meat in the diet, which historically has always been the main source for iron. It is very efficiently absorbed as a whole unit as opposed to non-heme iron, which has to dissolve before iron ions can be taken up in the intestinal cells.

Pure hemolyzed hemoglobin powder of bovine or porcine origin derived from the food industry as raw material for iron substitution has been of interest in Sweden since the early seventies. Science and Medicine agrees as this is by far the best-tolerated and efficient form of oral iron.

Heme iron uptake is 20 – 40 %. non-heme iron is 2 - 4 %.

The heme-iron side-effects ratio in studies remains at placebo level.

Heme iron available for supplementation.

New form of oral iron treatment

In the 1970' ies it became possible for the food industry to collect, clean and treat hemoglobin fully hygienically. From this we today are able to use food grade pure hemoglobin powder.

This gave birth to heme iron supplementation by evolving into pharma-grade hemoglobin powder raw material for tablets.

Heme iron tablet supplements have been in use in Scandinavia for more than thirty years. There have been no cases of serious side-effects or poisonings reported after use by literally millions.

Heme iron advantages

Absorbed separately and independently

Tolerance for heme iron is equal or close to placebo. There is no change in tolerance or efficacy over time. The absorption of heme iron is several times higher and the side-effects rate significantly lower than for non-heme oral iron.

Heme iron is absorbed through a separate pathway and does not have to be discontinued when intravenous treatment is started. This can for instance allow for longer intervals between resource-heavy, inconvenient and painful injections.

Simple dosage

Dosage for the OptiFer® supplements is the simplest possible. One tablet per day, at any time. Food drink or other medication will not affect the uptake of heme iron.

Superior absorption

Heme iron is always taken up

Heme iron is always absorbed. In any clinical situation. It has been observed that patients after a gastric bypass surgery still can absorb heme iron, but not non-heme, since heme iron is taken up along the whole of the intestinal length.

Non-heme iron absorption virtually ceases for a period after heavy blood loss, such as surgery or blood donation. Heme iron, however, is taken up normally.

Heme iron uptake is also not affected by simultaneously ingested foodstuff, drink or medication.


The microminerals or trace elements include iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium and zinc

Natural bovine hemoglobin is not only well-tolerated and an efficient source of iron. It means also a wealth of micronutrients and for example amino acids and signal substances that together make the formation of blood naturally more efficient.

Called micronutrients because they are needed only in small amounts, these substances are the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development.

As tiny as the amounts are, however, the consequences of their absence are severe. Iodine, vitamin A and iron are most important in global public health terms;

They include dietary trace minerals in amounts generally less than 100 milligrams/day -as opposed to the macrominerals which are required in larger quantities

Effective supplementation

How can 18 mg of heme iron compete with a 100 mg non-heme iron supplement?

30 days of supplementation with 100 mg Fe++ non-heme iron at a bio-availablity of 2 % theoretically gives 60 mg absorbed iron. At 4 % the amount is 120 mg.

Supplementation with 18 mg of heme iron for thirty days with a bio-availability of 20 % gives 108 mg of absorbed iron. At 40 % it is more than 200 mg. Heme iron is very well tolerated and is known to have a side-effects ratio as placebo. This also means a higher therapy success rate.

This is why heme iron tablets with a dose of 18 mg Fe++ can compete with non-heme preparations of 100 mg Fe++ or more.

Heme iron will also not block the uptake of zinc as non-heme iron in doses over 60 mg will.

Created By
MediTec NutriCare Division


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