What is Iron Supplement?

Found in all living organisms, Iron is an extremely important part of our biological system. Enzymes and proteins synthesized by the human body containing Iron are heavily responsible for a variety of biological oxidation and transport processes. 

Iron is a necessary component for metabolism and is important for the production of red blood cells.

Benefits of Iron

The primary function of Iron is the production of hemoglobin, which is attributed to the dark red color of blood. Intake of iron is especially important for women, as they lose significant amounts of blood every month and are more likely to get anemia

The amount of Iron in the body must also be sufficient to compensate for the possible internal and external injuries that may occur.

The brain consumes 20% of oxygen present in blood, and the supply of oxygen in blood is aided by Iron, making it responsible for proper brain function. As it acts as a carrier of oxygen, it is vital to other organ systems too, apart from the brain

Thus, Iron becomes particularly important in old age as well – where individuals may have to combat degenerative illnesses such as dementia.

Iron aids the synthesis of neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which are used by the body for various neurological functions – including directing whether energy needs to be saved or used, and regulating the mood, while combating possible depression.

Iron is an important part of enzymes such as myoglobin, cytochromes and catalase, without the proper functioning of which organs would succumb to total failure and would shut down. Low levels of Iron also contribute to an increased sense of fatigue – an indicator that your organs are not performing at their best.

Apart from this, Iron is required in order to ensure that your immune system is functioning well too, as oxygen is required for the repair of damaged cells and tissues.

One of the lesser-known functions and benefits of Iron is the fact that it aids in regulating the temperature of the body, apart from aiding with other factors associated with balance (such as the circadian rhythm). This means that Iron is advantageous when it comes to combating insomnia as well.

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Sources of Iron

Owing to the fact that most plants and animals require Iron, it is abundantly available as a food source. There are two kinds of sources available – one kind contains heme-bound iron (which is more easily absorbed by our body and is, therefore, more effective for use) and the other kind does not (this reduces the amount of Iron available for use – even if they are important sources).

Examples of heme-bound iron sources are poultry, clam, oyster and red meat. Non-heme iron sources include green leafy vegetables, tofu, beans (more specifically soybeans) and lentils – apart from fortified forms of cereals and bread. 

It is because of this difference between heme-bound and non heme-bound iron that vegetarians are advised to consume a higher intake of Iron in order to compensate for the bioavailability.

Consumption of Iron

Ideal dosages of consumption of iron are 0.27 mg/day for infants younger than 6 months, 11 mg/day for those between 7 months to 1 year, 7 mg/day for children aged 1 to 3, and 10 mg/day for 4-8 years aged kids. In males ranging from ages 9 and older, the ideal dosage is 8 mg/day, with the exception of 11 mg/day in teen boys. 

In females, the amount consumed should be relatively higher, being 8 mg/day for those aged 9-13, 15 mg/day for 14-18 years, and 18 mg/day for women who haven’t reached menopause, after which the intake necessary drops down to 8 mg/day.

Deficiencies of Iron

While the body stores some extra Iron to replace any that is lost, low levels of the mineral over a long period can cause anemia. Anemia is a disease that is caused by low levels of red blood cells in the blood – this leads to low levels of hemoglobin. 

When hemoglobin content in the blood is lowered, the cells of the body do not receive enough oxygen. As a result of this, organs are unable to function at their usual levels. (There are different kinds of anemia – the one caused due to deficiency in the mineral is referred to as iron-deficiency anemia.)

You can tell that there is a decrease in normal levels of Iron if they start to experience headaches, irritability, weakness, weight loss, and fatigue – these are the most commonly observed symptoms of anemia.

You must note that it is not necessary that only a low-iron diet causes anemia. It may occur as a result of activities such as donating blood frequently, forcing yourself to exercise more than necessary, and may occur as a side-effect of some conditions too. 

In women, apart from the usual areas of threat, menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding can lead to anemia too. Thus, caution needs to be exercised with regard to all these areas.

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