If you’ve shopped for iron supplements you may have noticed two different amounts of iron listed on the same package. The higher number is the total amount of iron in the supplement. The second, smaller number is the amount of elemental iron.
Elemental iron is the total amount of iron in the supplement available for absorption by your body. Each type of iron has a different percent of elemental iron. For instance:
Therefore, higher total amounts of ferrous gluconate may be prescribed by your doctor to increase iron stores as compared to the amount of ferrous fumarate prescribed.
The amount of elemental iron in a supplement is typically listed in the Supplement Facts panel. In addition, some iron supplements will indicate the total milligrams of elemental iron on the front of the package making it easy for consumers to compare different iron supplements.
1. National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron. Retrieved from: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/iron/ March 8, 2012.