Iron is a chemical element metallic silver in color, but it is oxidized in the air. It is one of the oldest minerals discovered and symbolized by (Fe).
It is the fourth element in the earth’s crust , and is often found in nature in the form of oxides. iron and its alloys are among the most used mineral materials Absolutely.
It is also one of the minerals very necessary for the body, as it enters the formation of the hemoglobin protein , responsible for transporting oxygen to all cells of the body.
iron element has many functions in the body, as it is an important element in a large number of enzymes. it helps cells in absorbing oxygen and converting sugar in blood, into energy.
Its usefulness is also greatest during pregnancy , and childhood for proper growth.
some people may become deficient, which necessitates resorting to one of the methods of treating this deficiency, such as taking iron supplements.
importance of iron to the human body
- 1)- Anemia treatment:
which is considered one of the most common nutritional problems. which results when hemoglobin is below its normal levels.
Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, dizziness, fast heart rate, malaise and general weakness. so iron consumption contributes , In raising hemoglobin levels, thus treating anemia.
- 2)- Improving hemoglobin production:
as the main function of iron is to form hemoglobin. which is a red protein whose main function is to transport oxygen in the blood.
- 3)- Reducing fatigue:
Iron-rich foods and supplements can help raise iron levels, thus relieving fatigue. that can affect both women and men who experience fatigue for several weeks or more as a result of low iron levels.
- 4)- Increase muscle strength:
Research indicates that low levels of iron, can cause many problems. including loss of muscle strength and flexibility.
as muscle weakness is one of the most common signs of anemia, in addition to muscle tissue inflammation. which causes severe pain, so iron consumption contributes to, in maintaining muscle strength and pain relief.
- 5)- Reducing the effect of bruising:
People who suffer from easy and frequent bruising may suffer from iron deficiency. because hemoglobin affects the production and function of platelets that control blood clotting.
so taking iron supplements can improve hemoglobin production. thus improve the functions of Platelets and reduce the effects of bruising.
- 6)- Efficient use of energy in the body:
Iron is essential for carrying oxygen to the muscles and brain. which enhances the body’s use of energy efficiently, thus improving mental, and physical performance.
- 7)– Treating restless leg syndrome
which is caused by iron deficiency.
- 8)- Synthesize neurotransmitters:
Iron is actively involved in the synthesis of a number of essential neurotransmitters.
such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which play a major role in nerve cell and brain activity.
- 9)- Improve athletic performance and immune system function in people.
Benefits of iron for pregnant women
- Iron promotes the health of the pregnant woman, and the fetus during pregnancy.
- as the body’s absorption of iron increases during this period, and the amount of iron; that must be consumed increases due to the increase in blood volume and red blood cells, necessary to provide the fetus with its needs of oxygen and food.
- so it must be noted that the pregnant woman is exposed to any factors, affects iron absorption, or a lack of intake of its sources, may lead to iron deficiency or premature labor.
benefits of iron for hair
- Iron helps to strengthen hair follicles and promote their growth. because it carries oxygen to the roots of the hair.
- iron pills also work as a treatment for hair loss, as women need daily about (14-15) mg of iron in their diet.
- there are many foods that contain iron , and may aid in hair growth. including red meat, egg yolks, spinach, and dry fruits such as raisins.
Benefits of iron for children
- Babies store excess iron from their mothers while they are in the womb, and these extra quantities are used during the first six months of their life.
- while breastfeeding, as children need iron in the manufacture of hemoglobin. which works to transport oxygen through the blood to all cells of the body. in addition to it helps children’s brains develop normally.
Symptoms of iron deficiency in the body
In the beginning, iron deficiency anemia can be so slight that it is not noticeable. But the less iron in the body and the worse anemia, the more signs and symptoms of the disease.
- Signs of the disease may include iron deficiency anemia and symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue, weakness and paleness of the skin.
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath.
- Headache, lightheadedness, or dizziness.
- Cold hands and feet.
- Sore or pain in the tongue, and Brittle nails.
- An unusual craving for non-food items, such as ice, dirt or starch.
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia.
Daily iron dose
- Newborns 0-6 months: (0.27 mg).
- Infants 7-12 months: 11 mg.
- Children 1-3 years: (7 mg).
- Children 4-8 years: (10 mg).
- Adolescents 9-13 years: (8 mg).
- Adolescents 14-18 years: (11 mg).
- Men 19 years and over: (8 mg).
- Adolescent girls 9-13 years: (8 mg).
- from 14-18 years: (15 mg).
- Women 19-50 years: (18 mg).
- 51 years and over: (8 mg).
- Iron dose for pregnant women: (27 mg).
- Iron dose for nursing mothers: (10 mg).
Dietary sources of iron
- Liver is the best source of iron. So are meat (especially the brain and kidneys), eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, green leafy vegetables, spinach, dried fruits, blueberries.
- whole or fortified grains, bread and some baked goods, nuts and dried legumes, and pumpkin seeds. All of them are rich sources of iron, And dark chocolate.
- Iron from meat, poultry and fish is better absorbed, than iron from vegetables.
- Take iron supplements to treat anemia caused by:
- Heavy or long menstrual periods, as menstruation depletes the iron stores in the body. and this is the reason behind the higher rates of anemia in women compared to men.
- Kidney disease, as the kidneys are the organ responsible for manufacturing the hormone erythropoietin.
- Donate blood frequently.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding due to prolonged use of some medications such as: aspirin and ibuprofen.
- Prematurity, as the fetus stores iron while in the womb, and the fetus, uses this stored amount during the first six months of its life.
- Peptic ulcer, or cancer in part of the digestive system.
Use iron supplements
- Iron supplements are best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach , with water or fruit juice. (for adults: one cup, for children: half a cup), about an hour before eating or two hours after.
- so taking iron supplements with juices containing vitamin C helps, the body absorbs them, however iron pills can be taken with food or immediately after it to relieve stomach upset.
- it is worth noting that most people respond well when taking iron supplements in the form of pills. but some people with very low iron levels need Intravenous iron injection.
Medicinal iron preparations
- Iron sulfate, iron fumarate, iron gluconate and iron complex – polysaccharide, can be obtained without a prescription in medicinal preparations,vitamins and minerals.
- Iron dextran which is given by injection can only be obtained with a prescription and upon overnight stay in the hospital.
How to use iron pills effectively
- 1- Follow the instructions of a healthcare professional, and follow the directions attached to the iron pills. as the appropriate amount, number, and intervals between the doses depend on the quality of the iron pills.
- 2- Skip the missed dose if you forget it, and wait for the next dose.
- 3- Keeping iron pills at room temperature, away from moisture, direct light, and children.
- 4- Avoid taking iron supplements with antacids or calcium supplements at the same time, to get the full benefit of each drug or dietary supplement.
- 5- Not to combine iron pills and iron injections, because that causes iron poisoning.
- 6- Not to take large amounts of iron pills for longer than 6 months without consulting a doctor.
Damages of iron supplements
- – Iron supplements, when taken in high doses, can cause some side effects, such as:
- – Stomach upset.
- – Changes in stool.
- – Constipation or diarrhea.
- – Paleness or blueness of the skin and nails.