In pregnant women, ferrous bisglycinate supplements may be more effective and have lower risk of side effects than iron salts, new review shows


The systematic review and meta-analysis was published in Nutrition Reviews.

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Ferrous bisglycinate supplements may raise hemoglobin status more effectively, and with lower risk of side effects, in pregnant women compared to supplements made with iron salts. This is the conclusion of a new systematic review and meta-analysis published in Nutrition Reviews.1

In the systematic review and meta-analysis, the authors examined data from 17 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) “that reported hemoglobin or ferritin concentrations following at least 4 weeks’ supplementation of ferrous bisglycinate compared with other iron supplements in any dose or frequency.” Nine of the RCTs were conducted on pregnant women, while four were conducted in children. The remaining four trials, which were conducted in men and non-pregnant women, “were qualitatively evaluated,” the researchers said.

Following the meta-analysis, the researchers found that “Compared with other iron supplements, supplementation with ferrous bisglycinate for 4-20 weeks resulted in higher hemoglobin concentrations in pregnant women…and fewer reported GI adverse events.” Specifically, the analysis found that ferrous bisglycinate supplementation was 64% less likely to result in adverse gastrointestinal (GI) effects compared to other iron salts. No significant differences between the iron types were observed in the studies on children.

They concluded, “Ferrous bisglycinate shows some benefit over other iron supplements in increasing hemoglobin concentration and reducing GI adverse events among pregnant women. More trials are needed to assess the efficacy of ferrous bisglycinate against other iron supplements in other populations.”

The “other iron salts” against which ferrous bisglycinate was compared included the following: ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, carbonyl iron, iron multi-amino acid chelate, ferrous ascorbate, sodium feredetate, ferrous glycinate sulfate, and polymaltose iron.

Balchem (New Hampton, NY), supplier of the Ferrochel brand of ferrous bisglycinate, is drawing attention to these findings, as Ferrochel was one of the chelated iron products included in the meta-analysis. Ferrochel is part of Balchem’s Albion Minerals portfolio and is a “unique, fully chelated iron product formed by binding iron to two organic glycine molecules [so that] its smaller molecule size allows it to remain intact throughout the GI tract for optimal absorption,” the company’s press release states.

In the press release, Jonathan Bortz, MD, vice president of nutrition science at Balchem, stated, “We’re pleased to see that this latest study provides further evidence to show the enhanced efficacy and tolerability that ferrous bisglycinate, such as Ferrochel, is commonly associated with. For decades now, we have been investigating the role iron can play in supporting healthy pregnancies, and we are confident that additional data will provide additional proof of the superiority of ferrous bisglycinate over other iron salts.”

Following this meta-analysis, Balchem says it is now commissioning a new clinical trial on Ferrochel in pregnant women to glean “further insights into the optimal forms of iron to be used across various ages and stages of life.”

Of the latest meta-analysis, the study's lead author, Crystal Karakochuk, assistant profession of food, nutrition, and health at The University of British Columbia, stated in Balchem’s press release: “These findings are important as they confirm that not all oral iron supplements should be considered as equal. The ideal form of iron in prenatal multiple micronutrients should be highly bioavailable and have a low risk of gastrointestinal side effects in order to optimize adherence and reduce the risk of iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Ultimately, our findings show promise for ferrous bisglycinate as a superior form of supplemental iron compared to iron salts.”


  1. Fischer, J. A. J.; Cherian, A. M.; Bone, J. N.; Karakochuk, C. D. The effects of oral ferrous bisglycinate supplementation on hemoglobin and ferritin concentrations in adults and children: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Rev. 2023, 81 (8), 904-920. DOI: 10.1093/nutrit/nuac106
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