Tell me about...
What is iron?
Iron is an important trace mineral found in every cell of
the body, usually in combination with protein. Depending on
the level of iron in the body, it can act either as an antioxidant,
or it can stimulate the formation of free radicals.
we need it?
Iron is an essential nutrient because it is a vital part
of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all body cells.
Iron is essential to the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin,
which carries the oxygen in the blood and muscles. It makes
up part of many proteins and enzymes in the body.
iron should I take?
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended
daily allowance (RDA) of iron is as follows:
- Adult men: between 10-12 milligrams/day
- Adult women: 15 milligrams/day
- Children aged 7-10: 10 milligrams/day
- Infants: 10 milligrams/day
- Pregnant/lactating women: 30 milligrams/day
some good sources of iron?
Red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and fortified cereals
are all good sources of iron. Other sources include oysters,
dried fruits, molasses, and dark, leafy green vegetables such
as broccoli and spinach.
The best food sources of easily absorbed iron are animal
products. Iron from vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements
is harder for the body to absorb. Mixing lean meat, fish,
or poultry with beans or dark leafy greens at a meal can improve
absorption of vegetable sources of iron up to three times.
Foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.
What can happen if I don't get enough iron?
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency
worldwide. Deficiency occurs in the form of iron deficiency
anemia. Iron deficiency and anemia can occur during periods
of rapid growth, during pregnancy, and among women who are
menstruating more than usual. It can be associated with any
type of intestinal loss of blood, frequent donation of blood,
or from the inability to absorb iron efficiently. Initial
symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are fatigue and lack of
energy. Dizziness, weight loss, headaches and lowered immunity
can also occur.
happen if I take too much?
Iron toxicity rarely develops from an increased intake of
dietary iron alone; however, increased intake of iron supplements
may lead to toxicity. Symptoms include fatigue, anorexia,
dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, weight loss, shortness
of breath, and possibly a grayish color to the skin.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
Dietary Allowances, 10th ed. Washington, D.C.: National
Academy Press, 1989.
Murray M. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements.
Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996.
Weinberg ED. Iron withholding: a defense against infection
and neoplasia. Am J Physiol 1984;64:65102.
Hunt JR, Gallagher SK, Johnson LK. Effect of ascorbic
acid on apparent iron absorption by women with low iron stores.
Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:138185.
Semba RD, Muhilal, West KP Jr, et al. Impact of vitamin
A supplementation on hematological indicators of iron metabolism
and protein status in children. Nutr Res 1992;12:46978.
Dabbagh AJ, Trenam CW, Morris
CJ, Blake DR. Iron in joint inflammation. Ann Rheum Dis