Iron is one of the most important micronutrient required for normal functioning of the body. About 70% of stored iron found in red blood cells and muscles cells. Red blood cells contain a protein called haemoglobin which is composed of four subunits and each subunit contain hemegroup (iron in the centre), oxygen bind to this heme group, while myoglobin in muscles cells stored, transport and release oxygen whenever body needed.
- oxygen transportation
- red cell production(erythropoiesis)
- DNA synthesis
- metabolism and immune function.
how much do we need;
According to British dietetic association, daily recommendations for iron varies. People have different requirements, acoording to heir age, sex, physiological state like pregnancy, and sometimes their state of health. Routine iron supplementation is not recommended for pregnant women in UK.
|infants 0-3 months 1.7mg|
4-6 months 4.3 mg
7-12 months 7.8mg
|childrens 1-3 years 6.9mg|
4-6 years 6.1mg
7-10 years 8.7 mg
|Adolescents 11- 18 years 14.8 mg(girls)|
|Adults 19-55 years 14.8 mg(females)|
19-55 years 8.7 mg(males)
dietary sources of iron ;
Iron is found in two forms; heme and non heme. heme is animal derived iron and absorbed rapidly as compared to non heme iron which ismostly derived from plant. Heme iron absorb at the rate of 35% while non heme absorb at the rate of 25% and its absorption affected by several factors in food like ; Phytate (present in fibre containing food), Tannins (present in tea and coffee) and calcium. Certain medicines like H2 receptors blockers (used for the treatment of acidity and stomach ulcers), Cholesterol-lowering medications inhibit the absorption of iron.
Vitamin C reduces the inhibitory effect of phytates, polyphenols, calcium and egg proteins and enhances the absorption of iron.
Spinach; spinach is a rich source of iron, about 3.5 ounces of raw spinach contain 2.7mg of iron
Broccoli; Broccoli is a good source of iron,1 cup of cooked broccoli contains 1 mg of iron. Moreover, it is packed with vitamin C, which helps in iron absorption.
Dates; they are an excellent source of iron, carry 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits.
Dried apricots contain 2.6 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
Red meat; 3.5 ounces of ground beef contain 6.5 mg of iron.
Turkey; 3.5 ounces (100gramm) of turkey meat has 1.43 mg of iron.
Legumes; beans lentils chickpeas peas and soybean are all good sources of iron, one cup of cooked lentils contain 6.6mg of iron.
Quinoa; 185 gm of cooked quinoa contains 2.8mg of iron.
Pumpkin seeds; 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 2.5 mg of iron.
- Blood loss; Blood loss is the most common cause of iron deficiency. In men and postmenopauseal women, low iron status is almost results from gastrointestinal bleeding.
- Increased iron requirement: pregnancy, lactation
- Diminished iron absorption: celiac disease and atropic gastritis.
signs and symptoms of iron deficiency;
- Lethargy, fatigue
- pale coloured skin and lower eyelid
- clubbing of nails
- increased sensitivity to cold
- imapaired concentration
- poor immune system
Low iron status may result in iron deficiency anaemia, more than 2 billion people all over the world suffering from iron defiecency anaemia, making it the most common nutritional deficiency condition.
iron deficency anaemia in pregnant women increases the risk of prinatal infections, pre eclampsia and bleeding. Mternal anaemia also associated with poor fetal wellbieng and is linked to the low birth weight, prematurity and fetal death.
excess iron intake can be harmful;
Excess iron intake can also harmful. certain epidemiological studies indicate a link between high iron intake and increased incidence of cardio vascular disease, type2 diabetes and some cancer of digestive tracrt.
- Eat balanced diet consist of all food groups, if you are vegan or vegetarian always eat combination of food so iron absorption is not compromised
- Do not drink tea or coffee with food as they impair absorption of iron.
- seek your GP advice if; feel tried, women with heavy periods, people with renal diseases or on medication which impair iron absorption.