Iron and its role

Iron is needed for a number of complex processes that continuously take place in the body such as the transportation of oxygen, called haemoglobin.

The role of iron

Iron is involved in the conversion of blood sugar to energy. The immune system, which is dependent on iron for its efficient functioning and physical and mental growth requires adequate iron levels. This is particularly important in childhood and pregnancy where the developing baby is solely dependent on its mother’s iron supplies.

The body loses iron through urination and sweating. If iron reserves are low, normal haemoglobin production slows down, which means the transport of oxygen is reduced. This can result in symptoms such as tiredness, dizziness, lowered immunity or reduced performance, particularly in athletes.

Dietary iron

There are two types of dietary iron. The first one is found in animal products and is more easily absorbed by the body because it contains haemoglobin. The other doesn’t contain haemoglobin, so the body does not absorb it as efficiently. Since the body cannot produce iron itself, we need to make sure we consume sufficient amounts of iron as part of our normal daily diets.

Vitamin C has been proven to aid in the absorption of iron. Other foods rich in iron include seafood, liver, squash, beef, lamb, dark leafy greens, green peas, Bok Choy, spinach kale, broccoli, beans and pulses.

Iron supplements can also be a source of additional iron intake, but it’s important to contact a physician if you’re planning on going down the supplement route.

9 May, 2013

2 thoughts on “Iron and its role

  1. Very good information. You’re right, this is a very important mineral for us. If we’re fatigued greatly the doctor will usually check iron levels first.

    It’s best to get iron from our diets (from food) naturally. Some of the side effects of taking iron supplements are constipation and stomach upset. I was on prescription iron at one time, but the kind I was on had lesser side effects than others.

    If you decide to get OTC iron supplement, do check with the doctor first as you recommended, as there is a danger of getting too much iron. The best way to get iron is naturally.

    Very good post!

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