Iron is an essential mineral that is vital for multiple functions within the body, some of which include:
efficient production of energy
transportation and storage of oxygen
playing a role in healthy brain function
supporting the function of a healthy immune system
optimal growth and development
The body requires iron to synthesise haemoglobin and myoglobin, which are proteins in red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Iron is also required for hormone production.
Almost a quarter of females have inadequate iron intakes, compared to only 3% of males. Females aged 14-50 have higher iron requirements than their male counterparts, with even larger requirements during pregnancy.
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for iron is per the below table.
Iron can be found in beef, lamb, chicken, fish, green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains & dried fruit. Plant-derived iron is often more difficult for the body to absorb and hence vegetarians & vegans are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency and may find supplementation beneficial.
Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiencyᶟ in humans and it can
affect both children and adults. A common symptom of iron deficiency is fatigue, as well as other non-specific symptoms including dizziness, weakness, breathlessness, poor concentration and performance, and may be associated with certain pain syndromes.
Since fatigue can be a symptom of many other health conditions, some of
which are serious, it is important not to self-diagnose iron deficiency and to
instead seek advice from a healthcare professional. Iron deficiency anaemia (low levels of iron in the blood) is a diagnostic indicator of moderate to severe iron deficiency, but being iron deficient without anaemia is very commonᶟ, and specific blood tests must be conducted to identify an iron deficiency in the body.
The right iron supplements, as recommended by your healthcare professional may be beneficial in supporting iron levels. It’s important to not exceed the recommended dosage of iron supplements, as excess iron can be stored in the organs and joints and create other medical issues.
See your GP to understand your iron requirements.
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