The Importance of Iron

The Importance of Iron

Iron is a mineral essential for the Red Blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to deliver it throughout the body. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, that almost two-third of the body’s iron is represented by hemoglobin.

There are 2 types of dietary iron:

  • Haem Iron: This type of iron is easily absorbed by the body. Heme iron is found in animal-based foods, such as red meat, liver, poultry and fish. However, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid eating Liver as it is very rich in vitamin A, which can harm your unborn baby.
  • Non-Haem Iron: Non-heme iron, in contrast to heme iron is not easily absorbed. This type of iron is found in plant-based foods such as fortified cereals, beans vegetables, lentils and legumes. You may intake certain food and drinks rich in vitamin C with these food to boost iron absorption.

Although some people may not consider iron as a nutrient, Iron Deficiency is the leading single nutritional deficiency in the world and the most common cause of anemia in the United States. According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., almost 10% of women are iron deficient.

The main causes of iron deficiency are:

Causes of Iron Deficiency High-risk Groups
Inadequate amounts of dietary iron Vegetarians
Poor absorption Vegetarians
Increased iron needs Athletes and pregnant women
Blood loss Menstruating women and regular blood donors

The amount of iron you need each day depends on your age, gender, and overall health. An average man needs to intake 8mg of iron while a young woman may need to intake up to 18mg per day. During pregnancy, the need of iron increases up to 27 mg per day. Infants and children need more iron than adults because their growing body needs more iron. In childhood, boys and girls need the same amount of iron (10mg per day). Seniors need a moderate amount of iron per day (8mg per day for both men and women).

It is advisable that you get all the iron you need through varied and balanced diet. You can intake iron supplements when you require additional doses of iron. However, taking very high doses of iron (over 20mg) could be harmful unless otherwise if it is advised by your GP.

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