Oral iron therapy: Current concepts and future prospects for improving efficacy and outcomes

Br J Haematol. 2024 Mar;204(3):759-773. doi: 10.1111/bjh.19268. Epub 2024 Jan 22.


Iron deficiency (ID) and iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) are global public health concerns, most commonly afflicting children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Pathological outcomes of ID include delayed cognitive development in children, adverse pregnancy outcomes and decreased work capacity in adults. IDA is usually treated by oral iron supplementation, typically using iron salts (e.g. FeSO4 ); however, dosing at several-fold above the RDA may be required due to less efficient absorption. Excess enteral iron causes adverse gastrointestinal side effects, thus reducing compliance, and negatively impacts the gut microbiome. Recent research has sought to identify new iron formulations with better absorption so that lower effective dosing can be utilized. This article outlines emerging research on oral iron supplementation and focuses on molecular mechanisms by which different supplemental forms of iron are transported across the intestinal epithelium and whether these transport pathways are subject to regulation by the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin.

Keywords: DMT1; FPN; anaemia; hepcidin; intestinal iron absorption; iron supplementation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / therapy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Iron Overload* / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy


  • Iron