Hearing from commercials and ads, almost all of the products sold in the market have iron in it. Milk, supplements, foods, skincare and even chips have it. This is because iron plays a very important role in our body due to its various benefits.
This article will give you useful information about the benefits of iron and what it does to our body.
What does iron do to our body?
Iron is responsible for our growth and development, and it is what makes the hemoglobin and myoglobin. To simplify these two:
- Hemoglobin is the protein found in our red blood cells which carries the oxygen from the lungs, and all the way through the parts of the body.
- Myoglobin on the other hand, is the protein that gives oxygen to our muscles.
Additionally, iron is responsible for our hormones. So if you have a hormonal imbalance, blame it on low iron.
Benefits of iron in the body
Let me walk you through the benefits of iron in the body and the good sides of having sufficient iron:
Treats and prevents anemia
Having adequate iron in the body will prevent anemia. And the fastest way to treat iron deficiency anemia is to take iron supplements to replenish the lost iron in the body.
Boost hemoglobin levels
Since hemoglobin, as previously discussed, is responsible for carrying oxygen to our lungs and body, enough iron contributes to boosting the production of hemoglobin, which helps form red blood cells that are needed to the body.
Reduces tiredness and exhaustion
Sufficient and increased iron intake will give you more energy because your cells will have enough oxygen that is needed to prevent you from feeling easily fatigued and tired.
If you’re high in iron, your body will produce a sufficient amount of hemoglobin, which will help increase oxygen delivery to the body’s tissues and working muscles. Iron is also important when it comes to having a healthy muscle recovery.
Strengthens immune system
In terms of a strong immune system, iron plays an essential role. Having adequate iron in the body will help your immune system to function properly, which will defend your body from diseases and viruses.
Enhances concentration and reduces headache
High levels of iron means high levels of hemoglobin in red blood cells. This will help enough oxygen to reach the brain that will reduce or prevent headache, thus helping to enhance concentration.
Improves sleeping patterns
If you lack iron you will get sleepy, but you won’t be able to fall asleep properly because you’re too fatigued to sleep. Sufficient iron will prevent you from getting easily tired and exhausted, so you won’t have any hindrances in falling asleep. In short, iron helps your body to be in a good condition to sleep.
FAQs about iron:
What happens if your body doesn’t have enough iron?
If you have insufficient iron, you will develop a condition called iron deficiency anemia. This leads to less hemoglobin, where red blood cells become smaller. Your blood will also carry less oxygen from the lungs, leading to shortness of breath.
How will you know if you lack iron?
You will experience symptoms such as:
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating and memorizing
- Getting sick more frequently
- Pale and itchy skin
- Change of appetite and food taste
- Sudden hair loss
A person suffering from iron deficiency anemia may also be less likely to fight off germs and infections due to a low immune system. Working and exercising suddenly becomes difficult since your body easily becomes tired and weak.
Who is prone to iron deficiency anemia?
- Pregnant women since their body produces more blood to support their baby’s growth. Mild anemia is normal during pregnancy, that’s why doctors advise pregnant women to take prenatal supplements for sufficient iron production.
- Lactating/breastfeeding moms may lose iron because the nutrients that they take are mostly absorbed by their babies. In this case, prescribed iron supplements or vitamins are highly advised by doctors to make moms healthy.
- People with heart failure because their heart cannot pump enough blood to be distributed to the body.
- Those who are suffering from cancer. The cancer itself can lead to nutritional deficiencies, weakened cells and organ problems causing loss of iron.
- People who do heavy exercise. When you exercise, red blood cells break down quicker. Heavy exercises can cause excessive sweating and increased blood loss in urine, therefore increasing the iron loss up to 70%.
- Vegans and vegetarians. Iron can be found in meat, so vegans and vegetarians may develop iron deficiency anemia since they don’t eat meat and animal products. However, not all of them suffer iron loss. Because some vegans and vegetarians eat foods which are not meat and animal products, but have high amounts of iron.
- Alcoholics. People who are suffering from alcoholism and heavy alcohol consumption highly affects the iron metabolism. This will lead to iron deficiencies and gastrointestinal bleeding.
How to boost iron to prevent iron deficiency anemia
There are plenty of iron supplements that will surely boost your iron levels. People who are suffering from iron deficiency anemia are advised by their doctors to take iron supplements in order to reverse low iron levels, and help treat their condition.
Vitamin C enhances the amount of iron that is absorbed by the body from the nutrients. And at the same, retains iron in its active form.
When drinking supplements and vitamins, it is best advice to consult your doctors. There are over the counter vitamins and supplements that would do no harm when taken. But for those who are suffering from iron deficiency anemia, their iron levels must be checked so that doctors can prescribe the best vitamins and supplements for them.
Foods rich in iron
Obviously, in order for vitamins and supplements to fully take effect in your body, you have to eat healthy too. Don’t just depend on what you drink, rather eat foods that are rich in iron. These includes:
- Seafoods and shellfish (but clams, oysters and mussels in particular, are good sources)
- Meat such as beef and pork (but lean ground beef and beef liver are good sources too)
- Poultry (chicken and turkey)
- Fish (tuna, haddock, mackerel and salmon are better sources)
- Firm tofu
- Iron-fortified cereals
- Oatmeal and quinoa
- Dried fruits (such as raisins and apricots
- Green leafy veggies (such as spinach)
Iron has plenty of benefits which are essential for our body’s overall well-being. Lack of iron can cause iron deficiency anemia, but a balanced diet with enough nutrients, plus added vitamins and supplements will prevent this condition. Always remember that a frequent visit to the doctor will help you understand what your body needs for maintaining a healthy iron level.