Iron, Fe

Time to "Iron" out the facts

It's In Your Blood

It is iron in the blood that gives it its deep red color. Iron's main purpose is to form hemoglobin in red blood cells. It transports oxygen from the lungs through the blood to the cells throughout your body. Hemoglobin then brings carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled. This exchange is crucial to the functioning of the systems of your body.


Muscular: A sufficient oxygen supply is needed for muscle contraction. It keeps muscles tone and elastic.


Nervous: The brain uses about 20% of the oxygen in blood. Iron synthesizes many essential neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. With a steady flow, the brain is able to develop neural pathways and stimulate different parts as a part of normal function. It also makes the brain less susceptible to cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's.


Immune: Without the transport of oxygen to damaged cells, they cannot repair themselves. Thus, your body is unable to fend off diseases and infections.


Metabolic: Iron regulates the body's temperature which keeps metabolic functions normal. It also aids the absorption of energy from food we eat.


Enzyme: Iron is a major ingredient to many enzymes such as myoglobin and catalase. Without these enzymes, organ systems would not work properly or cease to work fully.


Cardiovascular: With an adequate red blood cell count, blood pressure remains at a normal level


Integumentary: Your nails and skin depend on iron to remain at optimal health. Without iron, your nails can grow brittle and your tongue smoothen.



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$.17 per dose. Up to three doses per day. Total cost per day of iron supplements: $.50

Eat More Kale

You can obtain iron through your diet by incorporating foods such as:

legumes

lentils

clams

pumpkins and other squash

molasses

beef

shrimp

soy beans

whole grains

leafy green vegetables

turnip

broccoli

dried fruit


In order to get the most absorption of the iron you eat, make sure you also consume a good amount of vitamin-C in your diet as well. This is found in tomatoes, oranges, and other fruit.


Alongside your whole-grain toast in the morning, peel an orange to go with it.

The Deficit

Some people are born with iron deficiencies. In normal people, iron is lost every time you bleed. Without enough iron, the body develops disorders and systems can malfunction. These can be regulated through an iron-rich diet or iron supplements.


Restless Leg Syndrome: Low iron levels in the blood can cause a condition of leg muscle spasms. An adequate intake of iron can prevent and cure this syndrome.


Anemia: This is the world's #1 most common nutritional deficiency and comes in 400 different forms. In the U.S alone, 3.5 million are affected. Whether hereditary or because of blood loss, it causes symptoms like fatigue trigged oxygen-deprived organs.


  • Anemia in Women: Women are at a high risk for iron deficiencies due to their menstrual cycle. When women are pregnant, there is a larger demand on their blood supply and they are urged to take iron supplements
  • Anemia in Older Adults: The elderly are at risk due to the larger number of medical complications that come with old age. Many also lack an adequate diet due to food restrictions.
  • Anemia From Poor Diet: Vitamin B12 and folate are necessary in order to build red blood cells and are important in your diet. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal by-products so many vegetarians and vegans are at risk for a deficiency
  • Anemia from Blood Loss: Internal bleeding through ulcers, hemorrhoids, and different cancers put people at risk for anemia. Certain drugs, like aspirin and Ibuprofen can irritate the lining of your stomach, causing ulcers. Too many blood donations too often can also drain your red blood supply.
  • Anemia from Inherited Complications: Whether innate or developed later in life, this form of anemia does not always have a known cause.

  1. Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder that affects African-Americans. Red blood cells are crescent-shaped instead of the normal disk shape and this causes them to break down at a faster rate. Oxygen is unable to reach the body's organs. This can also be a painful occurrence since the irregular shaped cells can get stuck in the body's blood vessels.
  2. Blood cells are manufactured in the bone marrow. If there are problems with this source, not enough red blood cells are produced or those that are produced are insubstantial. They are unable to complete their task correctly.
  3. A rare condition, if the spleen becomes enlarged, it can trap and kill red blood cells before their circulation.



The Surplus

Hemochromatosis:

When the body absorbs too much iron, this disease results. Iron builds up in the body's tissues and organs which, if left untreated, can cause damage over a long period of time. Typically, this disorder is genetic and symptoms begin to appear in adulthood.


Symptoms:

Chronic Fatigue

Muscle Weakness

Loss of weight

Pain in the Abdomen

Pain in joints


Diagnosis:

A series of blood tests are done to determine if you have Hemochromatosis. They test serum transferrin saturation, glucose levels, and ferritin levels. They might run an ECG to test your heart activity or run liver function tests. If caught in its early stages, the disease can be treated. But if it goes undetected and the iron builds up, people can develop arthritis, heart problems, and liver problems like cancer and cirrhosis.


Treatment:

A half-liter of blood is taken from you each week until iron levels are normal. It takes months or even years to fully treat.

People at risk or who have had Hemochromatosis should check their iron level at least once a year

Dosage

It is advised that iron supplements be taken with vitamin C one or two hours after a meal and swallowed with a full glass of water (or fruit juice). Do not take it with milk, eggs, coffee, or tea as they inhibit the absorption of the iron.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron by age and sex.

Infants

0–6 months

0.27* mg/day


7–12 months

11 mg/day


Children

1–3 years

7 mg/day


4–8 years

10 mg/day


Males

9–13 years

8 mg/day


14–18 years

11 mg/day


19–30 years

8 mg/day


31–50 years

8 mg/day


51–70 years

8 mg/day


>70 years

8 mg/day


Females

9–13 years

8 mg/day


14–18 years

15 mg/day


19–30 years

18 mg/day


31–50 years

18 mg/day


51–70 years

8 mg/day


>70 years

8 mg/day


Pregnant Women

14–18 years

27 mg/day


19–30 years

27 mg/day


31–50 years

27 mg/day


Lactating Women

14–18 years

10 mg/day


19–30 years

9 mg/day


31–50 years

9 mg/day



Sources


"Iron and Iron Deficiency" Nutrition for Everyone. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. February 23, 2011. November 3, 2013.


"Iron Supplement: oral". RelayClinical Education. McKesson Health Solutions LLC. Feb. 2012 November 3, 2013.


Kiran, Patil. Iron. Organic Information Services Pvt. Ltd. November 3, 2013.


Smith, Michael W. Dietary Reference Intakes, Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. 2005-2013. November 3, 2013.


Dugdale, David C. MD. "Hemochromatosis". A.D.A.M Health Encyclopedia. A.D.A.M Health Solution, Ebix, Inc. March 4, 2012. November 3, 2013.