By Sara Reistad-Long


At Ritual, we think information is part of our product. We want you to have as much knowledge about and confidence in what’s in Essential for Women as we do, so we keep a close eye on the questions coming in. Recently, we’ve been emailing with a lot of you about iron. It’s no wonder, as deficiency is no joke (sorry, Popeye). Low iron levels are surprisingly common, and can majorly mess with your energy and stamina--and nobody needs that. We’ve compiled some of your most asked questions and turned them over to Dr. Luke Bucci, our Head of Research of Development. Here’s what he’s got to say.

Why did you decide to include iron in the Essential for Women formula?
Iron is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in women in the US, affecting nearly one in five. Vegans, athletes and women with low body weight are among those particularly at risk.

How did you settle on the dosing?
Our mantra is “only what you need,” so instead of giving the full 100% Daily Value of iron, we chose the amount (8 mg) that’s been shown to bring almost every woman up to sufficiency and balance with other minerals. This last part is important, since too much iron can reduce uptake of other essential trace minerals.

Is this different from how other formulas do it?
Most multivitamins follow the Daily Value of 18 mg, which is actually the amount recommended for pregnant women. (Most women get anemic during pregnancy because their blood volume increases while their number of blood cells stays the same, so more iron is recommended.) This number is much more than non-pregnant women need, which can be problematic because of not only the mineral balance issue, but also the fact that too much iron can cause mild free radical damage and therefore be tough to tolerate. We’ve solved for that problem, though. We chose a clinically-studied, amino acid chelate form of iron (the same form you’ll find in food) that is well known to be gentler and kinder on the stomach than typical forms. So with Essential for Women, you’re getting both the right dose and the right form.

What kinds of women shouldn’t be taking iron?
Women diagnosed with a genetic condition called hemochromatosis should not take additional iron in supplements unless instructed by their physician. This condition causes too much iron storage in the body. Otherwise, the form and dose of iron used in Essential for Women is suitable for all women.

Do women’s iron needs change after menopause?
Yes! After menopause, a woman’s need for iron is reduced quite a bit; the Daily Value goes from 18 to 10 mg. This makes it a lot easier to get enough iron from foods, but it’s not foolproof. Less iron is simply a normal change, but a little extra iron is still important since women eat less than men.

Are there women who will need larger doses of iron than what Ritual provides?
Pregnancy is the obvious answer, although this is actually hotly debated. Having sufficient bodily iron stores before getting pregnant is the real issue, not flooding mother with high amounts of iron late in pregnancy, which has not been shown to be as beneficial, according to studies. Our dose, combined with dietary sources, is enough to build sufficient iron stores for women who may become pregnant. Some other conditions that also may require more iron (at the discretion of your healthcare provider) are heavy menstrual bleeding, stomach ulcers, certain tumors, over-exercise and a few rare genetic disorders that require more iron intake. If you think you fall into one of these categories, ask your doctor for a blood test to check your levels.

Can you tell us a little about the sourcing and why you chose it?
Ritual chose Albion Minerals FerroChel® (ferrous glycinate). FerroChel has been used around the world for decades, and has shown repeatedly to be more efficient and more tolerable than other common iron forms. FerroChel is produced by a patented method, and fits our other requirements of being vegetarian, nonGMO and generally recognized as safe by the FDA (GRAS). Albion is an icon in the dietary supplement industry and has led the way for development and testing of chelated minerals.