often have we heard mothers or doctor’s advice their kids or patients to eat iron rich food? Often, we wonder, why a mineral is so necessary for our body and how we will ensure its enough supply. Today in this blog, we will discuss everything important pertaining to IRON.
Body needs good supply of IRON for blood production. Our red blood cells contain seventy percent of body’s total iron level. Red blood cells (RBC) contains Hemoglobin (Hb) which carries oxygen from our lungs to tissues.
Do you know; one fourth of iron is reserved as ferritin which is stored in cells and circulates in blood? In males, usually 1 gram iron is stored and in females about 300 mg. For males, this quantity is enough reserve for 3 years while in females it lasts about 6 months only.
Why we need iron?
Iron is used to make Hemoglobin
Hemoglobin carries oxygen from lungs to tissues and is vital for life
Iron is also a requirement for manufacturing some hormones
Iron is also very important for our growth and development
What are the sources of Iron?
Daily requirements depend on many factors like age and sex. Women require more iron than men, because of loss of blood during menstruation.
Non-Vegetarian sources: Meat, Seafood, Poultry
Vegetarian Sources: Beans, Lentils, Peas, Kidney beans, Dark green leafy vegetables like Kale, Spinach, Tofu, Brussel sprouts, Bean sprouts, Beets, Cabbage, corn, Nuts dries fruits, raisins
Fortified foods: Various breakfast cereals and flours, and baby formulas come with fortification of Iron
Source of iron.
How much Iron is required daily?
Babies <6 months 0.27 mg
Infants< 1 year 11 mg
Kids<3 years 7 mg
Kids 4-8 years 10 mg
Kids 9-13 years 8 mg
Boys 14-18 years 11 mg
Girls 14- 18 years 15 mg
Adult men 8 mg
Adult female 18 mg
Pregnancy 27 mg
Lactation 9 mg
What happens when our iron levels are low?
Main disease resulting from Iron deficiency is IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA.
During pregnancy, if enough iron is not available it can result in low birth weight, premature delivery and growth restriction to baby’s brain growth.
In kids, anemia can be a cause of psychological development delay, attention deficit, social withdrawal.
Who are at high risk of Iron deficiency?
Blood loss is major reason of iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency can affect anybody, but girls and women are at high risk especially during pregnancy and breast feeding, where iron demands of body increases. Females with excessive menstrual flow are also at high risk.Premature new-borns and people who donate blood very frequently can also get iron deficiency.
What can interfere with body’s iron absorption?
Certain chronic diseases and cancer can hamper iron absorption. Calcium can also reduce iron absorption in body. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption.
How will I know if my iron levels are low?
Deficiency of Iron causes iron deficiency anemia, where oxygen carrying Red Blood Cells are less in body. This is due to lack of iron. This makes you feel exhausted and breathless.
Excess deficiency of iron may also cause skin pallor, weakness, pain in chest with increased heartbeat, cold clammy extremities, sore tongue, brittle nails. Further loss of appetite or appetite for unusual things like ice, dirt may also be seen.
What to do if you suspect Iron deficiency?
Ensure enough quantities of iron rich foods for prevention of Iron deficiency in your daily diet.
Take medical opinion, few blood tests along with clinical examination will diagnose the problem. Only taking iron supplements may not help, treating the underlying cause is also important. Iron overdose can be very harmful hence self-medication must be avoided.
Homeopathy has also very good biochemical medicines which works as iron supplements without side effects. Also,Homeopathic medicines can treat the underlying disease (if any) behind iron deficiency anemia from its roots.
According to 2008 World health organization data, Anemia affects almost 25% of population. Small kids and women are at higher risk. Hence eat enough iron and secure good health for you and your family!