Iron & Its Supplements – A Complete Guide

Read Meat is a source of iron

The human body needs iron to produce red blood cells, and red blood cells are responsible for providing oxygen to crucial organs. It is also an essential mineral for metabolism.

Other health benefits include,

  • Iron prevents and reduces the symptoms of anemia
  • Prevents chronic illnesses
  • Cures bouts of coughing

Hemoglobin and myoglobin house around two-thirds of our body’s entire iron content. While hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to other organs, myoglobin plays a key role in the storage and transportation of oxygen to the muscle cells.

About 25% of iron is stored for future usage in case the diet intake of iron suddenly goes really low. This storage acts as a backup to reduce the impact of anemia in the future.

And lastly, around 25% of the body’s iron content is stored in the cells known as Ferritin. Ferritin stores up to three years of iron content in an average man and only one year of iron in an average woman. This is the main reason why women are more prone to the risk of anemia than men.

Health Benefits of Iron

When you consume iron in a balanced amount as a part of your regular diet, it provides your body with multiple benefits such as,

Helps With The Formation of Hemoglobin

The importance of hemoglobin is not something to be easily underestimated. An average human being tends to lose blood every day in different ways, both internally and externally. 

The chief role of iron in the body is to produce hemoglobin. Apart from that, it helps with the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to all other cells in the body.

Facilitates Muscle Function

Iron is an important mineral to maintain healthy muscles. By being present in the muscle tissues, it provides the supply of oxygen that is needed for the muscles to contract and expand. 

Without this process, muscles would get weak and lose their elasticity. This is also why muscle weakness is one of the most common symptoms of anemia.

Improves Brain Functioning

Since oxygen is supplied to the blood by iron and the brain uses most of the oxygen in the blood, iron is critical for improved brain health and brain functions.

The steady flow of blood in the brain improves cognitive functioning and hence increased brain development is also a benefit attributed to iron.

Transports Oxygen

Another key responsibility that iron carries are to act as the carrier for oxygen. The task involves transferring oxygen from one cell to another. 

Since oxygen is needed by each and every organ of our body, iron becomes heavily crucial to help our organs perform their daily functions.

Prevents Anemia

Anemia affects millions of people across the globe. Amongst all the other nutritional deficiencies, anemia grabs the most popular spot. 

It results from a lack of iron content in the human body and naturally, a healthy iron balance helps treat this iron deficiency.

Prevents Tiredness & Fatigue

Iron prevents instances of unexplained dizziness and tiredness in both men and women. If someone is iron deficient, they run at a high risk of fatigue as iron is the most important part of hemoglobin and thus blood.

Boosts Immunity

Iron provides amazing strength to the immune system making our body highly resilient and competent to fight against various infections and diseases.

Even if the immune system doesn’t perform well and the damage is caused to the body, even then iron is needed to reverse the damage and heal the condition. 

Because red blood cells are required to provide oxygen to the damaged tissues, organs or cells without which there will be no hemoglobin and without hemoglobin, there would be no oxygen.

Regulates Energy Metabolism

Iron heavily participates in the process of extracting energy from the food we have consumed and dispersing it to different organs in the body. This is how iron has regular energy and metabolism.

Promotes Peaceful Sleep

Anyone who is suffering from insomnia can turn to high levels of iron in their body as iron is helpful in reducing the symptoms of insomnia which is basically staying awake at night. 

It does so by controlling heart rhythm and thus improving the quality of sleep. Apart from that, imbalances in blood pressure can also lead to instances of staying awake, iron alleviates this symptom by maintaining a normal red blood cell count

Improves Concentration

When you maintain a healthy content of iron in your body, it leads to an increased flow of blood to the brain and benefits cognitive performance. 

As a part of increased cognitive performance, iron improves our level of concentration as well.

Ideal Iron Intake Chart

iron intake chart
Iron & Its Supplements - A Complete Guide 3

Foods Rich In Iron

Healthy amounts of iron content are widely available in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. Food sources containing high amounts of vitamin C can also be taken in order to maintain iron levels as it helps in absorbing iron more effectively.

Food items high in iron content are,

  • Lentil
  • Soybean
  • Oysters
  • Kidney beans
  • Broccoli
  • Beef liver
  • Tofu
  • Beef
  • Cereals
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Shrimp
  • Peanut butter
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Turnip

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

For people who lack sufficient amounts of iron, their organs may not be able to perform efficiently. Especially women and children need more iron than men as they are at a higher risk of anemia. Some common iron deficiency symptoms include,

  • Constant tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Slow metabolism
  • Severe fatigue
  • Brittle nails

Iron Supplements – What You Should Know?

Along with including iron-rich foods in your diet, at times you have to include iron supplements into your regimen. Oral iron supplements are available in different forms like tablets, capsules, and drops. 

These supplements work by increasing the level of iron and hemoglobin and thus treating any symptoms of iron deficiency or anemia.

Ferrous Iron

Ferrous iron contains a high concentration of iron. Doctors may recommend supplements like ferrous sulphate, ferrous fumarate, and ferrous gluconate as a source of ferrous iron.

Ferric Iron

Ferric iron isn’t readily absorbed by the body without being broken down and hence this form of supplement isn’t generally recommended.

Minerals are such an important part of our diet please explore this site to learn more about them.