Iron is an essential mineral in our body; it is a vital component of hemoglobin, which is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs. Hemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the iron in our body. According to the scientific consultant to the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements named Paul Thomas, EdD, RD, the primary reason why need iron is that it aids in the transportation of oxygen throughout our body. If a person lacks iron, his or her body could not make enough healthy red blood cells that carries oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia is the term used for the decrease in red blood cell levels.
Iron was known to have various important functions. According to a doctor named Elaine Chottiner, who is a director and a clinical assistant professor of General Hematology Clinics at the University of Michigan Medical Center in an online interview, iron is vital in order to maintain healthy hair, skin, cells, and nails. If your body has decreased red blood cells, it could not get enough oxygen in order to function well. According to Paul Thomas, if your body does not get enough supply of oxygen, you are going to become fatigued. This leads to exhaustion and can affect every organ in your body, including your brain and the immune system’s ability in fighting against infections. Severe iron deficiency during pregnancy could lead to increased risk of the baby to be born earlier than expected and have a smaller size than normal.
According to Elaine Chottiner, many individuals are unaware that they have low levels of iron until they come to notice the signs and symptoms. People who have iron deficiency anemia appear to be “sallow” or pale, having difficulty exercising, and easily gets fatigued.
Some of the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are:
According to Paul Tomas, a simple blood test could easily diagnose the different stages of iron deficiency anemia. It is important to see your doctor or any qualified medical professional on the off chance that you are feeling tired and dragging. Women who are pregnant and individuals who are suffering from gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease are advised to have their iron checked and tested regularly.
The iron that we need every day highly depends on our gender, age, and overall physical well-being. In general, toddlers and infants need more iron that adolescents and adults since their bodies are growing faster. Boys and girls need the same amount of iron during childhood – 10 mg per day from 4 to 8 years of age, and 8 mg from 9 to 13 years of age. A woman’s everyday need of iron increases when she becomes an adolescent. Since women lose blood during their monthly period, they need more iron than men do. This explains the reason why women aging 19 to 50 years need to have a dose of 18 mg of iron a day. On the other hand, men the same age can go with just a small amount of 8 mg per day.
After menopause, the daily need of iron in women decreases as their menstrual cycle end. After a woman begins to experience menopause, the amount of iron that both men and women need would be the same – 8 mg per day.
You need to take more iron, either from iron supplements or from dietary sources on the off chance that you are experiencing the following:
It is also advisable that you take an iron supplement if you are a vegan or vegetarian since your body could not absorb the type of iron that is contained in plants as compared to how well it absorbs iron from meat.
Iron supplements are known to cause negative effects and usually involves that stomach, such as vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and dark colored stools. According to some experts, a stool softener could be useful when taking iron supplements since it could make you feel better. Adding extra fiber to your diet could aid in relieving the symptoms associated with iron supplement use.
In order to minimize the side effects caused by taking iron supplements, it is recommended that you should start at the lowest effective dose then gradually increase it once you have become familiar with its effects. On the off chance that you are experiencing stomach pain following the use of iron supplements, see your physician so that the dosage or the form of iron you are using can be adjusted. Taking supplements in combination with food was also known to be safe.
Unlike other supplements, taking high amounts of iron is not recommended. Unless an adult has been treated under close supervision by a qualified medical professional, taking more than 45 mg of iron supplement a day is not advisable. For children, taking high amounts of iron supplement could lead to death since their need for iron is significantly low as compared to adults. Symptoms of iron toxicity in children include abdominal pain, severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and presence of blood in stools.
People who have hemochromatosis should avoid taking iron supplements. Normally, people only absorb 10% of the iron they take, however, people with hemochromatosis absorbs up to 30%. This could lead to excessive build-up of iron up to dangerous levels.References:
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