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Iron was first recognized as a body constituent in 1713 and as a dietary essential in the 1860's.
A female body has 2g of Iron about 15% of which is stored in the liver, spleen and bone marrow and 85% in functional forms, primarily as haemoglobin and myoglobin. A male body has about 4g of Iron, 25% stored with the balance in functional form,
Haemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying component of the blood. Iron-deficient people tire easily, because their bodies are starved for oxygen. Myoglobin helps muscle cells store oxygen. Without enough iron, ATP (the fuel the body runs on) cannot be properly synthesized. As a result, some iron-deficient people become fatigued even when their haemoglobin levels are normal.
Haem" iron, the most absorbable form, is found in liver, kidneys, heart, beef, pork, oysters. Far less absorbable, nonhaem iron, is found mostly in lentils, molasses, leafy green vegetables & kidney beans.
Absorption of haem (ferrous iron) is about 10 fold that of nonhaem (ferric iron).
GRAS - Generally recognised as safe. No adverse reactions, side effects or overdose symptoms expected when taken within the recommended amounts.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency. Many premenopausal women (up to 30%) become either anaemic or marginally iron deficient unless they supplement with iron. Iron deficiency is also common in infants, children, teenagers and vegetarians. Even so, the 10-20 mg of iron present in most multiple-vitamin/mineral supplements is often adequate.
Individuals, even pregnant women, should not automatically take higher dose iron supplements. Fatigue, often the first symptom of iron deficiency, can be caused by many other things. A nutritionally oriented doctor should assess the need for high dose iron supplements, since taking large amounts of iron when it is not needed does no good and may do some harm.
Large overdoses (as when a child swallows an entire bottle of iron supplements) can be fatal. Keep iron-containing supplements out of the reach of children. As few as 10 iron tablets have caused death in a child. A child suspected of iron poisoning should be rushed to the hospital to have the stomach pumped; 30 minutes may make a crucial difference.
In otherwise healthy adults, iron overload and the resulting organ damage due to regular high dietary intake, is unlikely. Haemochromatosis, haemosiderosis, polycythemia, and iron-loading anaemia (such as thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia) are conditions involving excessive storage of iron. Supplementing iron can be dangerous for people with these illnesses.
Supplemental doses required to overcome iron deficiency can cause constipation. Sometimes switching the form of iron, getting more exercise, or treating the constipation with fibre and fluids is helpful. Sometimes, it is necessary to reduce the amount of iron if constipation occurs.
The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only. Neither the information provided nor products supplied or offered should be construed to be in any way substitutes for medical attention or prescribed medication. Consult with your healthcare professional before taking any supplements or herbal remedies if you are suffering from an undiagnosed illness or if you are on prescribed medication.