Focus On: Iron

WHAT is it? An abundant metal found nearly everywhere on earth, iron is necessary for human life. Without iron, our bodies wouldn’t be able to deliver oxygen to our muscles, brain, and other vital organs.

[ Benefits ]

Primarily located in the hemoglobin and myoglobin of red-blood cells, iron carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron is also essential in cell growth. An iron deficiency leads to fatigue, as the body cannot function properly without adequate oxygen; this condition is known as iron-deficiency anemia, which can be easily treated through proper diet. Individuals with Crohn’s disease or celiac disease are also at risk for anemia.

 

[ Natural Sources ]

The body better absorbs heme iron (iron that is found in hemoglobin and animal meats) than nonheme iron, yet both are beneficial.

>> Sources of heme iron include : chicken liver, oysters, lean beef, clams, and dark turkey meat.

>> Nonheme sources include : soybeans; lentils; kidney, lima, pinto, and navy beans; romaine lettuce; molasses; tofu; and spinach. To increase absorption of nonheme iron, eat iron-rich foods in combination with foods high in vitamin C.

 

[ Warning ]

Adult men and postmenopausal women rarely experience iron deficiencies, therefore these individuals should not take iron supplements unless directed to do so by a doctor or physician. Too much iron, known as an iron overload, can result in liver cirrhosis, heart failure, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, and in some cases, death. Symptoms of an iron overload include joint pain, abdominal pain, irregular heart rhythm, amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), hair loss, depression, and elevated blood sugar.

 

[ Recommended Dosage ]

Age  in years

Male (mg/day)

Female (mg/day)

7-11 mos

11

11

1-3

7

7

4-8

7

10

9-13

8

8

14-18

11

1

19-50

8

18

51+

8

8

 

*If you are pregnant, 27 mg/day is recommended. 10 mg/day is recommended for lactating women 14 to 18 years of age, 9 mg/day for women older than 19.