Iron is an essential mineral. The first signs of use of iron come from the Sumerians and the Egyptians, where around 4000 BC, small items, such as the tips of spears and ornaments, were being fashioned from iron recovered from meteorites.
It is essential for many enzymes, including catalase, and is important for growth. Iron is also required for a healthy immune system and for energy production.
Food Sources of Iron
Good sources of iron include liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit (such as dried apricots), whole grains (such as brown rice), fortified breakfast cereals, soybean flour and most dark green leafy vegetables (such as watercress, curly kale and spinach).
Benefits and Functions of Iron
Iron is of tremendous value to the human body. It is involved in the formation of red blood cells and is a transporter of oxygen to every cell, providing us with the necessary burst of energy we all need to help us through our daily tasks. Iron also assists the memory and the ability to concentrate and helps build resistance to infection, stress and disease.
You should be able to get all the iron you need from your daily diet. This is:
8.7 mg a day for men
14.8 mg a day for women
What are the deficiency symptoms of Iron?
Those most prone to a deficiency in iron include menstruating, pregnant or lactating women, teenagers, athletes and where there is excessive bleeding due to wounds, surgery, etc.
A deficiency in iron can lead to a general run-down feeling, anaemia, headaches, acute infections, colds, flu, dizziness and shortness of breath during periods of exertion such as exercise.
Overdosage Signs of Iron
Excessive dietary iron is toxic, because excess ferrous iron reacts with peroxides in the body, producing free radicals. When iron is in normal quantity, the body's own antioxidant mechanisms can control this process. In excess, uncontrollable quantities of free radicals are produced.
The side effects of taking high doses of iron include Constipation, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep any iron supplements out of the reach of children.
If iron intake is uncontrollably high, a disease results, called hemochromatosis . The iron excess accumulates in the liver, with siderosis and organ damage as a result.
Iron Deficiency :