How important is the importance of iron in our body?
Where to get iron? What is heme and non-heme iron?
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
Is excess iron harmful to health?
Iron is an essential mineral for the human body. It is responsible for the transport of oxygen to cells, the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis and many other important processes. The body needs iron to produce hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs to all the cells of the body. Iron is also necessary for the production of myoglobin, a protein found in muscles. Myoglobin stores oxygen in the muscles, providing them with energy to work. The importance of iron in our body is, as you can see, huge.
Iron is present in many foods, both of animal and plant origin. Good sources of animal iron include:
Good sources of plant iron include:
- legume seeds,
- dark green leafy vegetables,
- cereals enriched with iron,
- dried fruits.
The body absorbs heme iron better than non-heme iron. Heme iron is present in animal products. Non-heme iron is present in foods of plant origin.
To improve the absorption of non-heme iron, consume it with foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for converting non-heme iron into a form that is easily absorbed.
Iron deficiency is a common public health problem. It can occur at any age, but is especially common in children, pregnant women, physically active people, and the elderly. There are also individual characteristics of the body and diseases that, despite a sufficient supply of this element, determine the impairment of its absorption. These can be bowel disorders, acid-base imbalance, impaired spleen function, or (in the case of women) reproductive system diseases.
Long-term iron deficiency includes:
- chronic fatigue,
- pale skin,
- heart palpitations and arrhythmia,
- problems with concentration,
- hair loss,
- brittle nails,
- anxiety and depression,
- irritability and neurosis,
- general deterioration of health, susceptibility to diseases and infections,
- development of anemia.
Too much iron is also not good for your health. Excess iron can lead to hemochromatosis, which is a metabolic disease where the body stores too much iron.
The symptoms of hemochromatosis are:
- stomach pain,
- hormonal disorders,
- liver damage
- myocardial infarction,
- development of insulin resistance or diabetes.
To avoid iron deficiency or excess, it is important to eat a balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods, but also other nutrients such as vitamin C.