Iron

What is it?

Iron is a trace mineral that is part of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. It is also found in myoglobin which stores oxygen in the muscles to use for energy production.

Function How it helps
Blood building

Iron is the main component needed for the manufacture of haemoglobin, the pigment accounting for the colour of red blood cells. Haemoglobin is comprised of an iron compound combined with a protein, and is the means by which oxygen is transported through the body.

Essential coenzyme Iron-dependent enzymes influence energy utilisation and metabolism and the synthesis of collagen, brain neurotransmitters and DNA. Many symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia, such as fatigue, weakness and apathy, are associated not only with cellular oxygen depletion, but also the reduced energy production and metabolism due to enzyme deficiencies.

 

What is it used for?

Iron deficiency anaemia

Excessive loss of blood

Fatigue (if iron deficient)

Weakness (if iron deficient)

Heavy periods

Restless legs syndrome

Pregnancy

 

Best food sources

Liver

Red meat

Blackstrap molasses

Raisins

Prunes

Pumpkin seeds

Almonds

Cashews

Legumes

Fresh dates Watercress Yeast extract

 

Deficiency Symptoms

Iron deficiency anaemia

Cracked tongue/lips Listlessness
Chronic infections Fatigue Weakness
Facial pallor Impaired mental development in children Heart palpitations

Supplementation dosage range

10-25mg per day

Other information

Iron deficiency is common in the following groups, if you think you may be deficient, you should have a blood test.

  • Vegans and vegetarians
  • Pregnant women and babies
  • Women with heavy periods
  • The elderly
  • Athletes and those on a weight loss diet
  • Anyone with pile, bleeding gms or gastric inflammation.

Taking extra vitamin C can help with the absorption of iron.

 

Cautions

  • Iron supplements may cause constipation, diarrhoea, nausea or irritation to the stomach. Such gastrointestinal symptoms are common with iron administration even when doses are not high, especially when taken in the inorganic form (i.e. ferrous sulfate). In most cases, such problems can be avoided by taking iron in the bisglycinate form. The absorption of iron bisglycinate is also superior to ferrous sulfate.

  • Iron supplements are not recommended in patients taking the drugs allopurinol, penicillamine, warfarin, fluoroquinolone antibiotics or tetracycline, unless on the advice and under the strict monitoring of a doctor.

  • Iron is toxic if taken at high doses. Levels of 20mg per kilo of bodyweight cause acute toxic symptoms in infants and supplements should be kept well out of reach of children.
  • The upper safe limit for short term us is 15mg and for short term use is 80mg.

 

 

Factors which deplete levels, impair absorption and/or inhibit activity:

Tea and coffee

Milk

Sulfasazine
Zinc in high doses Alcohol Calcium in high doses
Cholestyramine Phytates (in cereal grains) Magnesium in high doses
Pancreatin Antacids

 

 

Leave a Reply