If the body does not have iron, an individual is at risk for developing iron deficiency. The condition is specifically called as iron deficiency anemia which is a condition in which the red blood cells could not carry adequate oxygen to all the cells in the body.
Always bear in mind that iron is required for the production of hemoglobin and myoglobin which are 2 vital proteins that transport oxygen. An individual should obtain the needed amount of iron in the diet so that he/she has enough energy to perform daily tasks at home or at work.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency
- Feeling cold
- Issues with thinking and memory
- Reddened, inflamed tongue
Take note that iron deficiency can develop if an individual does not eat enough foods that contain iron or if he/she has difficulty absorbing iron. Women require more iron than men due to the blood loss from menstruation while pregnant women need more iron for the developing fetus. The blood loss due to ulcers or other digestive tract disorders can also result to iron deficiency anemia.
Once an individual has symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, a doctor should be consulted so that blood tests are ordered to establish if deficiency is the issue or another cause.
Vegans and vegetarians are susceptible to iron deficiency since the form of iron present in plants is not absorbed as well as heme iron present in poultry, meat and fish. Nevertheless, you can augment the quantity of non-heme iron taken in by adding a food that is rich with vitamin C to the meal.
What is the daily amount of iron required?
It depends on the gender and age of an individual. Adult men require about 8 mg of iron per day while premenopausal adult women require 18 mg per day. Women over 50 years old only need 8 mg in a day.
A healthy diet with foods packed with iron is typically the ideal and safest way to prevent iron deficiency. Legumes, meat, oysters, poultry, pork, tuna, dark green vegetables, nuts, potatoes and tomato juice are suitable sources of dietary iron.
Iron as a dietary supplement
Many men and postmenopausal women acquire enough iron from foods and should not use iron supplements unless prescribed by a doctor. Take note that prenatal vitamins and mineral supplements typically contain iron. Additionally, women who have heavy periods might require supplemental iron.
Just be careful when iron supplements are used though. Avoid taking more than 45 mg per day unless instructed by the doctor. Any amount higher than this can result to iron toxicity.
The iron supplements are considered dangerous for individuals who have hemochromatosis which is a condition in which iron overload occurs. The adult iron supplements can rapidly become toxic for young children as well, thus supplements must be stored in tightly sealed, child-proof bottles.