You probably don’t know that the iron in your blood is essential for the production of hemoglobin.
Iron has many different roles in the body. About 65 to 80 percent of iron in the blood is in a form of hemoglobin.
In addition, iron is involved in certain reactions within the body that produces energy. Any excess iron is stored in the body as a reserve.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about iron, why it is important and why your blood needs it.
So let’s get started right away.
What is Iron and What Does it Do in The Blood?
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Iron as a component of hemoglobin in erythrocytes is required for transporting oxygen around the body and, in the form of myoglobin, for the storage and use of oxygen in muscles.
Iron in the heme complexes of hemoglobin and myoglobin is stabilized in the ferrous state and interaction with the adjacent
globin protein enables it to bind reversibly to oxygen.
Without iron, the cells in your body can’t get enough oxygen, and you will feel sluggish and tired.
Summary: Iron is a mineral that binds with hemoglobin to form a protein in red blood cells which helps carry oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body
Why Your Blood Needs Iron
Iron is a mineral that is needed by the body for many processes. Here are some of the reasons why your blood needs this nutrient:
1. Iron Deficiency Anemia
According to the world health
organization, iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world.
It can be caused by a low dietary intake of iron, poor iron absorption, or excessive blood loss.
Several groups are at an increased risk for iron deficiency including children and adolescents, pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, athletes, and older adults.
Not having enough iron in your blood may make you feel lethargic.
Although iron-deficiency anemia is serious, it can be treated. Improving your iron level will help you feel better.
There are a number of options available to help you make sure you have enough iron in your blood.
Try to keep up a good intake of iron-rich foods including, for example:
Heme iron-containing foods:
- Lean red meat
Non-heme iron-containing foods:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Wholemeal bread
- Iron-fortified breakfast cereals
2. Boost Absorption
People with a low reserve of iron will absorb more iron than those with sufficient stores.
This is the body’s way of trying to maintain adequate levels of iron while protecting against iron toxicity in the blood.
Consuming foods with vitamin C,
such as citrus, tomatoes, or red pepper with meals can help increase iron absorption.
Afterthought: There are two types of iron in foods, heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron, however both types can be used by the body.
3. Growth and Development
Iron needs during pregnancy are
also increased due to fetal growth and increased demand for blood.
Iron demands during pregnancy are so large that an iron supplement is recommended for pregnant women.
Women of child-bearing age have
increased requirements for iron because of the losses from menstruation.
4. Hemoglobin Synthesis
Iron helps in the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells, this is dependent upon three processes, including:
- Adequate iron delivery and supply
- Adequate synthesis of protoporphyrins
- Adequate globin synthesis
Hemoglobin occupies 33% of the RBC volume and 90-95% of the dry weight. Without iron, hemoglobin synthesis is impossible, and oxygen will not be able to diffuse through the tissues and cells of the body.
List of Iron-Rich Foods That Are Good For Your Blood
Iron is found naturally in many foods and is added to some fortified food products.
You can get recommended amounts of iron by eating a variety of foods, including the following:
- Leafy greens
- White beans
- Kidney beans
How much iron do you need?
The amount of iron you need each day depends on your age, gender, and whether you eat a plant-based diet.
Vegetarians who do not eat meat, and poultry, need almost twice as much iron because the body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron in plant foods as well as heme iron in animal foods.
Average daily recommended amount are listed below in milligrams (mg).
- Birth to 6 months: 0.27 mg
- Infants 7–12 months: 11 mg
- Children 1–3 years: 7 mg
- Children 4–8 years: 10 mg
- Children 9–13 years: 8 mg
- Teen boys 14–18 years: 11 mg
- Teen girls 14–18 years: 15 mg
- Adult men 19–50 years: 8 mg
- Adult women 19–50 years: 18 mg
- Pregnant women: 27 mg
- Breastfeeding women: 9 mg
What about iron dietary supplements?
Iron is available in multivitamin supplements. Iron in supplements is often in the form of ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, and ferric citrate.
Here are some of the iron supplements from our best picks:
- Performance Energy Multivitamin For Men – Food-Based Formula – Iron Free (180 Tablets)
- Once Daily Multivitamin – Iron Free (90 Tablets)
- Source Of Life Multivitamin – Iron Free (180 Tablets)
- Full Spectro Multivitamin – Iron Free – Whole Food Based (360 Capsules)
- Floradix Iron + Herbs Liquid Extract (17 Fluid Ounces)
- Formula VM-75 Multivitamin With Chelated Minerals – Iron Free (180 Tablets)
- Daily One Caps Without Iron – High Potency Multivitamin & Mineral (180 Capsules)
- Alive Whole Food Energizer Multivitamin – Max Potency – Iron Free (180 Tablets)
Dietary supplements that contain
iron have a statement on the label, that it should be kept out of reach of children.
High intakes of iron-containing products is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under 6 years.
Are you getting enough iron?
Most people get sufficient amounts of iron from the foods they eat.
Certain groups of people are more likely than others to have trouble getting enough iron:
- Teen girls and women with heavy periods
- Pregnant women and teens
- Frequent blood donors
- People with cancer and gastrointestinal disorders
- People with heart failure
What happens if you don’t get enough iron?
In the short term, getting too little iron does not show clear symptoms. The body uses it’s stored iron in the muscles, liver, spleen, and bone marrow.
But when levels of iron in the body is low, iron deficiency anemia sets in. Red blood cells become smaller and contain less hemoglobin.
As a result, blood carries less oxygen from the lungs throughout the body.
Symptoms of iron deficiency include:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Lack of energy
- Poor memory
- Menstrual disorders
In addition, people with iron
deficiency anemia are less able to fight off germs and infections, work and exercise, and control their body temperature.
Infants and children with iron deficiency anemia might develop learning difficulties.
Iron deficiency is common, especially among young children, women under 50, and pregnant
It can occur in people who do not eat meat, poultry, seafood, and leafy greens.
Persons having blood loss, and gastrointestinal diseases that interfere with nutrient absorption.
Is iron toxic to the blood?
Yes, iron can be harmful if you get too much. In healthy people, taking high doses of iron supplements, especially on an empty stomach can cause stomach upsets, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Large amounts of iron might also cause more serious effects, such as inflammation of the stomach lining and ulcers. High doses also reduces zinc absorption.
Extremely high doses can cause organ failure, coma, convulsions, and death.
Child-proof warning labels on iron supplements has greatly reduced the number of accidental iron poisonings occuring in children.
People with a condition known as hereditary hemochromatosis have high toxic levels of iron in their body.
Without medical treatment, people with such condition can develop serious problems like liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and heart disease.
But for the sake of those having low levels of iron in the blood, a doctor might prescribe more than the upper limit of iron to people who need higher doses for a while, just to treat iron deficiency.
Does iron interact with medications?
Yes, iron supplements can interact or interfere with medicines that you take. Here are several examples:
Remember that taking both calcium and iron supplements together can cause problems. It is advisable to take them at different times of the day.
Iron is a mineral that has many benefits. Your blood needs iron to facilitate biochemical processes like transporting, producing hemoglobin and diffusing oxygen throughout the body.
Adequate intakes of iron-rich foods can help reduce iron deficiencies and disorders.
If dietary iron in your blood is not enough, supplementation can also provide equal amounts but should not be taken in excess.
Be sure to check the label on iron supplements for instructions.