Iron

 

What is it?

Iron is an important mineral that is crucial to human life.

What does it do?

  • Iron is a key component of haemoglobin (it is the haem part). Haemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell which is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs around the body and carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs for removal from the body.
  • It is also a component of myoglobin which is a kind of oxygen reservoir in the muscles.
  • Also involved in enzymes especially in relation to energy production.
  • As it is found mainly in the blood deficiency can occur through blood loss, e.g. menstruation, or peptic ulcers.

Deficiency Symptoms

  • Anaemia
  • Pale skin
  • Sore tongue
  • Tiredness, lack of stamina
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathlessness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold

Interactions

Vitamin C assists in its absorption. Requires good levels of stomach acid to help release it from foods.

Absorption may be blocked by naturally occurring substances called oxalates (spinach, rhubarb) phytates (wheatbran), phosphates (in fizzy drinks), or a very high supplementary intake of zinc.

Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)

Children 7-10 mg
Adults 10-14mg

Therapeutic amounts are generally considered to be higher than RDAs. However high doses should be considered in conjunction with a healthcare practitioner.

Food Sources

Red meats, especially offal (including liver and kidney), egg yolk, pulses, cereals, nuts, seeds, prrunes, raisins, dates, parsley. Best absorbed in its heme form which is found in animal sources, as opposed to nonheme which is how iron occurs in plant sources.

Safety Considerations

Not toxic in doses under 1g per day.

 

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