Benefits, Deficiency and Supplementation of Iron
Iron is one of the vital nutrients for the proper functioning of the body. This mineral is present in every cell of the body, and its deficiency can negatively affect people of all ages. It helps red blood cells to produce energy and removes carbon dioxide from the body.
It is naturally present in many food items like red meat, beans, peas, dried food, green leafy vegetables, etc. It is important to eat iron-rich food to prevent yourself from being anaemic. Anemia is a disease that arises due to a lack of iron in the body. It has often been observed that most small children and women are prone to anemia.
Therefore, physicians recommend them to take iron supplements with rich foods. There are innumerable iron supplements available in the market; you can choose any of the iron tablets, capsules, gum, or liquid as per your choice. According to experts, the best iron capsules for women are those that contain ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate, and ferrous gluconate, as they can be easily absorbed.
How Iron Deficiency Cause Anemia?
Although there are several reasons for anemia, iron-deficiency is the most popular one.
The iron helps in transporting oxygen to each organ of the body. It is the vital element of a protein called hemoglobin, which is present in red blood cells. This protein represents around two-thirds of the iron of the body. If you don’t consume an adequate amount of iron, your body will not be able to make enough red blood cells, which hinders the oxygen-carrying process and can lead to anemia.
If oxygen is not properly supplied to the body organs, you will feel tired. The anemia can affect your brain function as well as the immune system. Besides this, iron is vital for the proper growth of body cells. The deficiency of iron can leave you with dry hairs, damage skin, and brittle nails.
There are many important Iron health benefits
Iron is important for red blood cell production and also for keeping the heart cells healthy. If you’ve been diagnosed with anaemia, this condition can be greatly reduced by increasing your iron intake. Iron supplements are often recommended for patients that suffer from anaemia.
One of the most important iron health benefits is the increased oxygen that is delivered to the cells in your body. The lack of iron results in low haemoglobin levels, which result in the following loss of RBCs red blood cells that carry oxygen.
The lack of oxygen also deprives the skin of its natural colour, which makes it appear dry. A daily dose of iron-rich dietary foods can help to give your pale skin a healthy, radiant glow. Other Iron health benefits include the reduction in risks for colon cancer, prostate cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Haemoglobin formation in the arteries is also reduced.
There are several food sources of iron that can help to increase your Iron levels in your body. Some of these foods are
- Wheat germ
- Whole-grain foods
Vitamin C is another good Iron source, as is Zinc
Vitamin C has many health benefits. Vitamin C has been credited with healing scurvy in a trial conducted in the Caribbean. Vitamin C has antioxidant activity that can reduce cancer and lessen the symptoms of arthritis. However, most people don’t know that Vitamin C can also be a powerful source of iron!
Consuming vitamin C and iron together can be even better than consuming them separately, increasing absorption of non-hereditary (non-heme) sources of iron into the blood stream. Iron is necessary for the transfer of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen into the red blood cells.
So, when there is an adequate intake of vitamin C, the body can effectively absorb non-hereditary sources of iron because iron cannot bind to non-haemoglobin sources. Thus, it is essential to ensure that we meet the recommended daily allowance of iron in our diet to avoid the onset of anaemia.
If you’re not into fruits and vegetables, you can make some interesting dishes with vitamin c and iron. If you enjoy cooking, here are a few ideas: You can make a light and tasty pasta sauce using spinach, garlic, and broccoli; serve it with a lightly steamed broccoli; top with a light cream cheese for a delicious healthy snack.
Or, you might want to try eating a nice piece of raw grilled chicken with broccoli and pepper sprouts as an interesting side dish to your dinner. In any event, this is an easy way to incorporate healthy ingredients into your diet without having to cook complicated meals. As always, check with your local nutrition centre to find out what is appropriate to eat with which nutrients to keep your diet on track.
How Much Iron Do You Need Per Day?
Iron requirements depend on the age, sex, and health condition of the person.
You will be surprised to know that children need more iron than adults. Although the boy and girl have the same iron needs in childhood, later their body’s iron requirements change. The children between 4 to 8 years of age need 10 mg iron daily, and from ages 9 to 10 should take at least 8 mg daily.
The daily iron need for women between 19 to 50 age is 18 milligrams. But, if you are pregnant, then you need to consume 30 mg elemental iron per day. This is because the developing placenta and growing fetus demand more iron. This much iron intake cannot be obtained solely from natural foods. Therefore, it’s best for women to take iron capsules with an iron-rich diet.
After the grand climacteric (end of menstruation cycle), the iron needs of women suddenly fall. After, menopause women need 8 mg of iron per day. The men above 18 years should consume at least 8 mg per day.
Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
Symptoms of iron deficiency should be observed as soon as possible so that you can safeguard yourself from anemia. Here are the most common symptoms of iron-deficiency.
- Extreme Fatigue
- Pale skin
- Brittle nails
- Dead skin and dry hairs
- A sore tongue
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Fast heartbeat
Food Fight Against Iron Deficiency
You can consider the following foods to increase your increase in iron levels -:
- Beans and lentils
- Dry fruits
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole-grain foods
- Iron-rich fruits (mulberries, bananas, pomegranates, apples)
When Should You Take an Iron Supplement?
If you often feel dizzy and tired and are susceptible to recurring infections, then you should take a blood test to see iron levels in the blood. If your hemoglobin is low, then it’s time to consider an iron supplement. Don’t forget to consult the physician before taking any iron tablets.
The Bottom Line
Iron contributes a lot to our health and survival. Hence, it is vital to regulate iron levels by having iron-rich foods and dietary supplements. If you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anaemia, then your first course of action should be a blood test.
Once your doctor has determined that your blood tests are normal, then he will prescribe you an iron supplement. Don’t take more than the recommended dose, and always talk to your doctor if you feel that you need more of a supplement than your diet allows.
Remember to always follow your doctor’s dosage guidelines, and you’ll be fine. However, if you test positive for anaemia, don’t panic. Your first course of action will probably be a course of iron supplements.
There are several types available, and your doctor will likely recommend one depending on the results of your blood tests. Make sure that you eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, and that you take multi-vitamins as well. With the right diet and supplements, you can overcome anaemia and other symptoms of pica.
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