That's what I'm trying to figure out... it's a very confusing issue.
I know some people get iron infusions (IV) or shots, but these are expensive and carry the risk of severe allergic reaction. We could increase our dietary iron by eating more red meats, but this can also be a problem for some people:
Part of the problem is we don't know if we are iron deficient because of blood loss from our Crohn's, or because of decreased absorption of iron because of our Crohn's, or a combination of both. If we're not absorbing iron because of cellular damage in our bowel, taking oral iron won't even help.
I found a study that showed that taking Vitamin E with oral iron can help reduce the damage caused by the iron (in a rat model, no human studies yet that I know of):
I don't think there is an easy answer. I am going to talk to my doctor about Proferrin (an iron supplement that contains only heme-iron, like the type in red meat, which is more easily absorbed) or the iron infusions.
Also, I've read that men should never take an iron supplement unless their iron levels and ferritin levels have been checked and they are proven to have iron deficiciency anemia. Your blood count (hematocrit? hemoglobin?) might be low for another reason, such as Vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency. Too much iron in the body is dangerous, too.
I just feel like every time I have a health issue, the doctor is quick to have me take something (a drug, a supplement) that just creates a whole new problem for me. If I hadn't taken the oral iron supplements that my doctor told me to take, I'd probably be fine right now. Very frustrating.
BTW mtgman - Ugh, a kidney stone. I hope you're feeling better. Hang in there.
Crohn's possibly since early 20's (bowel obstruction)
Colonoscopy 2008: ulcers in rectum
Small capsule endoscopy: ulcers in terminal ileum
Chronis RLQ pain, no diarrhea
Gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar diet