Iron

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iron

Iron

One of the most important jobs of iron in your body is making hemoglobin and oxygenating red blood cells.

Iron is the mineral found in the largest amounts in your blood.

It’s necessary for many enzymes and is important for growth.

Iron is also needed for a healthy immune system and for energy production.

Iron deficiency is usually caused by not getting enough in your diet.

But, it can also result from intestinal bleeding, a diet high in phosphorus, poor digestion, long-term illness, ulcers, prolonged use of antacids, and drinking too much coffee or tea.

Menstruating women may become iron deficient, especially if they have heavy or prolonged periods and/or short menstrual cycles.

In some cases, a deficiency of vitamin B6 or B12 can cause anemia.

Strenuous exercise and heavy perspiration also deplete iron from your body.

Strict vegetarians are susceptible to iron deficiency and should have regular blood tests to check iron levels.

Iron deficiency symptoms include anemia, brittle hair, difficulty swallowing, digestive disturbances, dizziness, fatigue, fragile bones, hair loss, inflammation of tissues in your mouth, spoon-shaped nails or nails with ridges running lengthwise, nervousness, obesity, pallor, and slowed mental reactions.

Because iron is stored in your body, too much iron intake can also cause problems.

Too much iron in your tissues and organs leads to free radical production and increases your need for vitamin E.

Data now shows having high iron stores may predict who’ll get heart disease.

Buildup of iron in your tissues has been associated with a rare disease known as hemochromatosis, a hereditary disorder of found mostly in men and postmenopausal women.

Sources

Iron is found in eggs, fish, liver, meat, poultry, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and enriched breads and cereals.

Other food sources with lesser amounts are almonds, avocados, beets, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, dates, dulse, kelp, kidney and lima beans, lentils, millet, peaches, pears, dried prunes, pumpkins, raisins, rice and wheat bran, sesame seeds, soybeans, and watercress.

Herbs containing very small amounts of iron include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, dong quai, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, kelp, lemongrass, licorice, milk thistle seed, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, shepherd’s purse, uva ursi, and yellow dock.

Comments

Unless you’re anemic, menstruating, or of childbearing age, you shouldn’t take iron supplements.

If you take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, choose a product without iron.

Be sure to read labels.

Some products contain iron below the DRI and should be avoided by everyone; the amount in these products is too low if you need iron and too high if you don’t need more.

If you do need to take iron supplements, don’t take them at the same time as vitamin E, and choose an organic form of iron like ferrous gluconate or ferrous fumarate.

Inorganic forms, like ferrous sulfate, can oxidize vitamin E.

The RDA for iron is 8 mg per day for adult men, 12 mg a day for male children over age 10, and 18 mg per day for adult women and girls over age 11 (27 mg for pregnant women).

There must be enough hydrochloric acid present in your stomach in order for iron to be absorbed.

Copper, manganese, molybdenum, vitamin A, and the B-complex vitamins are also needed in order to absorb iron.

Taking vitamin C can increase iron absorption by as much as 30%.

Taking calcium with meals can inhibit the absorption of iron.

If you’re iron deficient, take calcium supplements at bedtime or at times when you’re not eating foods containing iron.

Too much zinc and vitamin E can also interfere with iron absorption.

Rheumatoid arthritis and cancer can cause anemia despite enough iron being stored in your liver, spleen, and bone marrow.

Iron deficiency is more prevalent in people with candidiasis or chronic herpes infections.

Cautions

Don’t take iron supplements if you have an infection.

Because bacteria require iron for growth, your body “hides” iron in your liver and other areas when an infection is present.

Taking extra iron at such times encourages the growth of bacteria in your body.

Iron may cause constipation.

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Dick and Lenay

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