Medicinal properties of iron

Functions of iron in the body


What does iron do in the human body? Special iron requirements

The main functions of iron in the body are:

  • Iron deficiency anemia: The ingestion of iron through foods or supplements helps to prevent and to fight the anemia produced by the lack of this mineral.
  • Losses or very high iron consumption: A higher intake of iron may be necessary in certain cases such as:
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding. During these periods women need more iron than usual because the baby consumes large quantities of this mineral.
  • Menstruation: During menstruation, especially young women, a great amount of blood is lost, so they need a higher ingestion this mineral.
  • Babies and children or girls in the growth phase: This period implies a major consumption of iron.
  • People who practice intensive sports: These people use a lot of iron and could need an superior ingestion the same.
  • People who have suffered blood loss as the result of surgery, accident or injury or both external and internal lesions (ulcers, tumors, bleeding, nose bleeding, etc.).
  • Weightloss diet: Very strict diets can entail low iron levels in the body.
  • Very strict vegetarian Diets: Given the lower absorption of heme iron from vegetables, vegetarian diets could be responsible for most studied body iron deficits.

Daily iron requirements

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron is 10 mg for men over 19 years and 15 mg for women over 11. Iron is best absorbed with vitamin C, so you should eat foods high in vitamin if you opt for a diet containing high levels of iron or when we need to take supplements of this mineral.

Cooking with iron tools is a way to get more iron. Food rich in tannins, such as green tea, or phytates, such as bran, diminish the iron absorption from foods.

Recommended amount of iron

The following table shows the recommended amounts of iron.

Recommended amount of iron in mg (milligrams)
Less than 6 months old6
Of 6 months to 10 years old10
Men of 11 to 18 years old12
Men over 19 years old10
Women of 11 to 50 years old15
Women over 5010
Pregnant women30

Toxicity of iron

Iron supplements should only be taken when the doctor considers it necessary.

Higher doses than recommended are toxic. It is necessary to take iron supplements away from the reach of children, for whom its ingestion is especially dangerous (3 g of iron can kill a child under 2 years)

People taking other supplements should check that they do not contain iron, therefore, they may not need it, Self-medication for a supposed lack of iron could mask the real reasons why the body needs greater amounts of this mineral.

Only the physician must diagnose the causes of this anomaly and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Excess of iron-rich foods, especially meats abuse, may be responsible for high blood iron level in Western society, one of the reasons that causes problems in heart and liver.

punto rojo More information on iron

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

7 May, 2021

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