Importance of Iron
All living things require iron. Humans use
iron to make, inter alia, haemoglobin and myoglobin, the proteins that help store and carry oxygen throughout the
body. Iron is the centre of our red blood cells, which allow oxygen to be carried throughout your body and into
your brain. Your brain uses over 20% of the oxygen available in the blood.
Lack of oxygen has a major impact on your brain's health and in the formation of dementia.
Iron supply to body requires to be
constantly replenished with food. Good sources of Iron are:
Ø Egg Yolks
Ø Dark-Green vegetables
The iron intake can further be boosted by
cooking in a cast-iron pan. By this, you can eat microscopic pieces of your pan along with your meal, but your body
can use them.
Iron supplements are also one more source
of iron. But they are intended as an addition to a nutritious diet when necessary and not a substitute for that.
Please note that Iron supplements are to be prescribed by a doctor. You should not turn to iron supplements without
consulting a doctor. Iron is not easily excreted by the body and can cause toxicity.
If you stick only to natural sources of
iron, you cannot get too much of iron. The body absorbs so much of iron as is necessary. If you take too much of
iron supplements, it is another matter.
Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that
promotes excessive iron absorption. It is found in one in 200 people of northern European descent. It causes joint
pain, belly pain and fatigue. If left untreated, it may ultimately lead to serious heart or liver
There are two main types of dietary
Found in meat
Found in both animal
and plant sources
It is well absorbed by
Its absorption by the
body is dependent on its interaction with other meal components.
The body keeps some iron in reserve. However,
low quantities of iron replenishment can lead to anaemia which is lack of healthy red blood cells for
carrying oxygen. The symptom of anaemia include fatigue, shortness of breath, feeling of being cold,
headache, irritability, dizziness or a paling of the skin. It is important to address iron deficiency anaemia
because it can lead to heart problems in the long run.
Anaemia can cause changes to the heart’s
pumping chamber, which increases the risk of heart attack and myocardial fibrosis. The lower the haemoglobin, the
more likely it is that the left ventricular hypertrophy and heart failure will develop.
Anaemia is a serious concern for children
as it can impair cognitive development, it can stunt growth and make the children prone to infectious disease.
Anaemia is also believed to be a major cause of maternal death.
Iron deficiency anaemia can also be a sign
of an underlying condition such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer. Because iron
is excreted along with blood leaving the body, other risk groups are menstruating women and frequent blood