Why it's important to take your iron supplements


Find out why it's important to take your supplements and read some handy tips to help with taking them.

On this page

This part of the PANDA study is trying to answer this really important question:

What is the right amount of iron to give to pregnant women to prevent anaemia?

If we give women too much iron they might experience side effects. Whilst the side effects are not harmful to a woman or baby, they can be unpleasant.

If we give women too little iron they might not get side effects, but they may get anaemia which can have serious problems for a woman and baby such as stillbirth, baby being born early and/or small, and post-delivery bleeding in women.

Finding the right dose

The PANDA study is testing three different doses of iron to find out which is best for preventing anaemia at the same time as minimising side effects.

Three groups of women will get different amounts of iron. We will monitor side effects and measure the impact on their health.

We will choose the best dose to take forward into a larger trial, testing if we should recommend all pregnant women take iron supplements to prevent anaemia.

What is my role in helping to find the right dose?

Taking tablets as prescribed can be difficult to do for lots of different reasons.

To help us choose which dose of iron to take forward we need all women on the PANDA study to take the iron supplements as closely as possible to what is prescribed.

If we give women three tablets a week but they only take one tablet a week then we won’t be able to tell if it is one tablet that is effective, or three tablets.

Simply put, we need to know if the iron supplements are working at the dose we give you.

What happens if I don't take my iron supplements as prescribed?

We are trying to work out which of the three doses of iron is best for preventing anaemia and minimising side effects.

We can only do this if women taking part do their best to take their iron supplements as prescribed.

If we give women three tablets a week, but they only take one tablet a week, then we won’t be able to tell if it is one tablet that is effective, or three tablets.

If you can’t take the supplements for any reason, please let the research team know. They can then account for the missing doses when they do the analysis and get the correct results.

Tips for taking your supplements

There may be a number of reasons why it may be difficult to always take your supplements as prescribed.

You may:

  • Find swallowing the tablets uncomfortable
  • Find you are having side effects from the tablets
  • Find that you are too busy to take the tablets
  • Forget to take the tablets

Here are some tips to help with the most common things that get in the way of taking supplements as prescribed (click to expand):