Developed in Sweden, natural heme iron therapy has been widely used for more than thirty years.
There are only two forms of bio-available iron
Natural heme iron from meat products is iron bound to natural hemoglobin or myoglobin. The OptiFer® series of supplements are made with natural bovine hemoglobin.
So-called non-heme iron is otherwise chemically bonded iron, and is found in plants, dairy and the usual synthetic iron supplements. Non-heme iron has to disintegrate before uptake in the stomach can happen. Uptake is only a fraction of heme iron uptake and tolerance is notoriously low for non-heme iron.
The uptake of non-heme iron is also positively or negatively affected by other foods consumed simultaneously. This is not the case for heme iron.
Heme iron is absorbed in the gut as a whole unit
Heme iron has the best uptake and tolerance of all forms.
Regular non-heme oral iron supplements are chemical compounds that need to disintegrate so that iron ions can be absorbed by the body.
Since absorption of free iron ions is rather low, (the absorption rate is only between 2 and 4 %) this will leave much of them in the gut after disintegration.
Free iron ions do not exist in nature, they are very reactive and will give disturbancies. This is the reason regular oral non-heme iron supplements give side-effects.