Vitamins and minerals play an important role in maintaining your health and iron is no exception. According to WHO (World Health Organisation) around 80% of the world population suffers from iron deficiency. If you are part of the remaining 20%, you’re doing a good job and probably having a healthy and balanced diet. But if you’re part of the majority then you can read more about iron and your health.
Important! If you think that you suffer from iron deficiency, consult your doctor immediately.
Iron and your health – What you need to know
Iron is part of every cell in your body and has a major role in creating a strong immune system. Your body is not able to produce iron by itself, but it absorbs it through the small intestine. Iron is the basic and most important component of hemoglobin, which distributes oxygen in your body.
Iron deficiency in children causes slow growth and behavior problems. Pregnant women who have iron deficiency have a risk of premature birth and low weight of the newborn.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Iron deficiency happens more frequently in women than in men. In 30 days, women can lose much more iron than men can.
The most common symptoms of iron deficiency are:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Dizziness or fainting
- Hair loss
- Problems with concentration
- Weak and brittle nails
Whether a person is suffering from iron deficiency can be determined with proper blood analysis. Consult your doctor if you experience some of the symptoms above.
Iron deficiency – Risk groups
Each person can be put in a situation where he/she can suffer from iron deficiency, but some some people are more prone to iron deficiency than others.
Women. With the loss of blood during menstruation and pregnancy, women can lose more iron than any other group of people.
Vegetarians. Iron that’s found in animal products like red meat, liver and eggs is easily absorbed by the body than iron that’s found in vegetables and legumes. That’s why vegetarians and vegans are more prone to iron deficiency than people who eat meat and animal products.
People with digestive system problems. People who fall into this group usually have slower iron absorption and therefore they usually take extra iron with dietary supplements.
Recommended daily iron intake
What is the recommended daily iron intake? The answer to that question depends on the individual needs, because all people are different. People usually need iron when they’re growing up, like children and teens. Also, pregnant women and women with a heavy flow (menstruation) need more iron. Consult your doctor before taking iron supplements. He/she will tell you what iron supplement dosage is prefect for you
The recommended daily iron intake is:
- Children (1-10 years) – 7 to 10 mg
- Women (19 years and up) – 18 mg
- Men (19 years and up) – 8 mg
- Pregnant women – 27 mg
- Women who are breastfeeding – 9 to 10 mg
Iron and your health – Extra tips
If you have a daily and balanced diet, you probably won’t need any additional iron supplement. If you want to include foods that are rich in iron in your diet, here are some: red meat, liver, many types of fish, nuts, legumes and egg yolks. Fruits and vegetables that are also rich in iron are spinach, lentils, strawberries, kiwi etc.
When you eat foods rich in iron, avoid consuming tea, coffee, milk and soy, because they may prevent the absorption of iron.
Calcium also prevents iron absorption. Therefore, if you also need to take calcium as a supplement, consult your doctor about what iron and calcium supplement is best for you.
If you consume iron only from plants, try to also eat something that contains a lot of vitamin C.