The Following Content Provided by the Linus Pauling Institute
Summary Iron is an essential component of hundreds of proteins and enzymes that support essential biological functions, such as oxygen transport, energy production, and DNA synthesis. Hemoglobin, myoglobin, cytochromes, and peroxidases require iron-containing heme as a prosthetic group for their biological activities. (More information)
Because the body excretes very little iron, iron metabolism is tightly regulated. In particular, the iron regulatory hormone, hepcidin, blocks dietary iron absorption, promotes cellular iron sequestration, and reduces iron bioavailability when body iron stores are sufficient to meet requirements.
Iron status can be assessed in healthy men and nonpregnant women using laboratory tests that measure serum ferritin (iron-storage protein), serum iron, total iron binding capacity, saturation of transferrin (the main iron carrier in blood), and soluble transferrin receptor.
Oxygen transport and storage
Electron transport and energy metabolism
Antioxidant and beneficial pro-oxidant functions
DNA replication and repair
Vitamin A deficiency often coexists with iron deficiency and may exacerbate iron-deficiency anemia by altering iron metabolism.
Adequate copper nutritional status is necessary for normal iron metabolism and red blood cell formation.
Zinc is essential to maintain adequate erythropoiesis. When zinc deficiency coexists with iron deficiency, it may exacerbate iron-deficiency anemia.
The presence of calcium decreases iron absorption from both nonheme (i.e., most supplements and food sources other than meat, poultry, and seafood) and heme sources.
Severe iron-deficiency anemia can impair thyroid metabolism in the following ways: (1) by altering the thyroid-stimulating hormone response of the pituitary gland; (2) by reducing the activity of thyroid peroxidase that catalyzes the iodination of thyroglobulin for the production of thyroid hormones; and (3) in the liver by limiting the conversion of T4 to T3, increasing T3 turnover, and decreasing T3 binding to nuclear receptors.
Levels of iron deficiency
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the US and the world. Levels of iron deficiency are listed below from least to most severe.
Storage iron depletion
Iron stores are depleted, but the functional iron supply is not limited.
Early functional iron deficiency
Before the development of frank anemia, the supply of functional iron to tissues, including bone marrow, is inadequate such as to impair erythropoiesis.
By definition, anemia is present when individual hemoglobin concentrations fall below two standard deviations of the distribution mean for hemoglobin in a healthy population of the same gender and age and living at the same altitude (32). In 2013, iron-deficiency anemia was the leading cause of years lived with disability in children and adolescents in the 50 most populous countries. The countries with the highest prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia in individuals younger than 19 years were Afghanistan (41%) and Yemen (39.8%); India contributed the largest number of cases of anemia (147.9 million). The prevalence in the US was estimated to be 19.3% with nearly 16 million cases of iron-deficiency anemia in children and adolescents.
Individuals at increased risk of iron deficiency
Life stage groups with increased requirements
Neonates and infants up to six months of age
Infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years
Nonpregnant women of childbearing age
Individuals with chronic blood losses
Chronic bleeding or acute blood loss may result in iron deficiency. One milliliter (mL) of blood with a hemoglobin concentration of 150 g/L contains 0.5 mg of iron. Thus, chronic loss of very small amounts of blood may result in iron deficiency.
Frequent blood donation
Regular intense exercise
Individuals with decreased iron absorption
Helicobacter pylori infection
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)
Gastric bypass surgery
Anemia of chronic disease
Other causes of iron deficiency
Vegetarian diet with inadequate sources of iron
Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
Complete article can be read here.
The Following Content Provided by the University of Maryland Medical Center
Iron is an essential mineral that is required for human life. Iron is found in the body's red blood cells, which carry oxygen-rich blood to every cell in the body. Iron is also involved in producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's energy source. Extra iron is stored in the liver, bone marrow, spleen, and muscles.
Not having enough iron can lead to anemia. The most common symptoms of anemia are weakness and fatigue.
One reason people who are iron deficient get tired easily is because their cells do not get enough oxygen. Pregnant women, young women during their reproductive years, and children tend to be at highest risk of iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia in children is associated with poor neurodevelopment. Anemia may be mild, moderate, or severe. It can be caused by blood loss, such as that from a bleeding ulcer, menstruation, severe trauma, surgery, or a malignant tumor. It can also be caused by an iron-poor diet, not absorbing enough dietary iron, pregnancy, and the rapid growth that takes place during infancy, early childhood, and adolescence.
On the other hand, too much iron in the body can lead to a condition known as hemochromatosis, which can cause diabetes, liver damage, and discoloration of the skin. Unlike other nutrients, excess iron cannot be excreted by the human body. For that reason, you should not take iron supplements without asking your doctor if you need extra iron.
Possible Iron Uses
Exercise capacity/sports performance
Cough associated with ACE inhibitor use
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Iron deficiency in infants and children
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.
The most common side effect from iron supplements is stomach upset, including discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn. Taking iron supplements will often darken stool color.
Although the evidence is not clear, there may be an association between high iron stores and the risks of heart disease, cancer (such as breast cancer), and Alzheimer disease. In people with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis), the parts of the intestine that are inflamed appear to have higher amounts of iron.
Iron can interfere with the absorption of many different medications. For this reason, it is best to take iron supplements at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking medications. If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use iron without talking to your health care provider first.
These medications should not be taken with iron:
· Allopurinol (Zyloprim): Used to treat gout, this medicine can increase the amount of iron stored in the liver.
· Penicillamine: Concomitant use with iron may reduce the absorption of penicillamine.
· Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs increase the risk of stomach bleeding. Because iron supplements can also cause stomach upset, you should not take iron supplements if you take NSAIDs unless under your doctor's supervision.
The following medications may reduce the absorption of iron:
· Cholestyramine and Colestipol: Doctors prescribe these 2 medications, known as bile acid sequestrants, to lower cholesterol.
· Medications used to treat ulcers, GERD, or other stomach problems: Some of these medications change the PH in stomach acid, making it harder to absorb iron. One class of medications, known as H2 receptor blockers, include cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid), and nizatidine (Axid). It is possible that a similar effect could occur with proton pump inhibitors, including esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and omeprazole (Prilosec). So far there is no evidence that people who take proton pump inhibitors have lower levels of iron.
· Antacids: Antacids such as TUMS and Rolaids may decrease the absorption of iron.
Lastly, birth control medicines may increase iron levels. If you are taking oral contraceptives, be careful not to take multiple vitamins that contain iron.
Complete article can be read here.
The Following Content Provided by Organic Facts
17 Surprising Benefits Of Iron
Important Sources Of Iron
Iron is found in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods, which is classified as heme or non-heme iron, respectively. Legumes, lentils, soy beans, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, cereals, bread, spinach, turnip, sprouts, broccoli and dry fruits also have good iron content.
Health Benefits Of Iron
Iron, when consumed in a balanced amount in the human diet, is perfect for providing a number of benefits, which are explained in greater detail below.
1) Hemoglobin Formation: Formation of hemoglobin is the chief function of this mineral. Most notably, women lose considerable amounts of blood every month during their menstruation years, which is one of the major reasons why women are more likely to suffer from anemia than men.
2) Muscle Function: It is present in the muscle tissues and helps to provide the supply of oxygen required for contraction of muscles. Without it, muscles lose their tone and elasticity; muscle weakness is one of the most obvious signs of anemia.
3) Brain Function: Increased development of the brain is also one of the many benefits of iron. Since oxygen supply in the blood is aided by it and the brain uses approximately 20% of the blood oxygen, iron is directly related to brain health and its functions.
4) Restless Leg Syndrome: Iron deficiency is one of the causes of the restless leg syndrome. This is connected to muscle spasms, which can be one of the symptoms of its deficiency. Most research on this syndrome has concentrated on iron.
5) Regulation of Body Temperature: Iron is an important facilitator for regulating body temperature. Keeping the body temperature stable means that enzymatic and metabolic functions can happen in their most optimal and efficient environments and temperatures.
6) Oxygen Carrier: One of the most important health benefits of iron is that it acts as a carrier of oxygen and thus participates in transferring oxygen from one body cell to other. This is a vital function of iron, as oxygen is required by each and every organ system to perform routine functions.
7) Iron Deficiency Anemia: Iron is helpful in the treatment of a severe disorder called iron deficiency anemia, which results from a lack of iron in the human body. This is where most of these health benefits come from, as a result of preventing this terrible disease that affects millions of people around the world. It is the most common nutritional deficiency on the planet.
8) Chronic Diseases: Iron also helps in the treatment of chronic disorders like renal failure anemia, and other chronic diseases of the intestinal and excretory system. These are not related to blood necessarily, like most other iron functions, but remember, iron is still a key part of many necessary processes throughout the body’s systems, not just the circulatory system.
9) Anemia in Women: Iron may also exhibit its health benefits in curing anemia that occurs in women during pregnancy or menstruation. New red blood cells must replace those that have been lost, so consuming significant amounts of iron is necessary for those women at those points in their lives.
10) Neurotransmitter Synthesis: Iron actively takes part in the synthesis of a number of essential neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals play a major role in different activities involving neurons and the human brain.
11) Predialysis Anemia: It is suggested by health experts that iron is capable of treating another form of anemia called predialysis anemia.
12) Fatigue: Health benefits of iron also include the elimination of unexplained or chronic fatigue, which may occur in both men and women. Its deficiency is a natural cause of fatigue since it is an important component of hemoglobin. So, the inclusion of iron in your diet keeps you fit, healthy, and energetic, both internally and in your external life.
13) Immune System: Iron also plays a key role in providing strength to the immune system of the human body. Thus, the body is made proficient enough to fight against a number of diseases and infections.
14) Energy Metabolism: Iron is an important participant of energy metabolism in human body. This process is how energy is extracted from the consumed food and subsequently distributed to different body parts.
15) Enzyme Systems: Iron happens to be the most important constituent of various enzymatic systems and other important constituents like myoglobin, cytochromes and catalase. Without these functioning properly, a number of organ systems would slow down or shut down completely.
16) Insomnia: Iron is also useful in treating insomnia in the human body and also improves the sleeping habits and quality of people by regulating their circadian rhythms. Proper red blood cell count can also result in less fluctuation of blood pressure, which can often keep people awake at night.
17) Concentration: Iron, when consumed in sufficient amounts, can help focus concentration and energy, which will boost cognitive and mental performance. Increased flow of blood to the brain due to iron’s red blood cell activity is what results in this important benefit.
The complete article can be read here.
The Following Content is Provided by WHfoods
Probably the best known nutrition fact about iron is that meats—particularly red meats—are rich in iron. You will see some familiar animal foods on our list of iron sources below.
While this is true, it is also true that a number of plant foods are also rich in iron. It may come as a surprise that researchers have found that people eating plant-based diets eat as much or more iron as people who regularly rely on animal foods.
Without question, more human health problems worldwide are caused by iron deficiency than by lack of any other nutrient. Less well known is the fact that excessive iron stores are also responsible for a large burden of illness worldwide.
Role in Health Support
Enhances Oxygen Transport
All of the tissues in our body need a near constant supply of oxygen to maintain life. We maintain this oxygen delivery by the red cells in our blood. These have an iron-containing protein called hemoglobin, which is a perfect transporter for oxygen, in that it both picks up and releases oxygen in an exact and targeted way
Supports Energy Production
In addition to the key role iron plays in transporting oxygen to tissues, it also is necessary to support proper metabolism for muscles and other active organs. Almost all of the cells in our body burn dietary calories to create energy through a process that requires iron.
It is a common misconception that plant foods are not rich sources of iron. In fact, many plant foods contain more than 10% of a daily iron requirement per serving. Some—lentils and spinach, for example—contain as much as one third of the daily requirement.
Plant foods tend to have fewer calories per serving than animal foods. Since we base our food ratings on nutrient richness (or amount of nutrient per calorie).
The complete article can be read here.
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