The Importance of Iron

Everyone needs iron and it’s therefore considered an essential mineral.  I’m going to break this down for you.

You may remember from school that there is a process going on in our bodies called respiration. Respiration is a chemical/metabolic process where we take in oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. Good ‘ol Wikipedia gave a definition that I like “respiration is defined as the movement of oxygen from the outside air to the cells within tissues, and the transportation of carbon dioxide in the opposite direction.”   Note that respiration IS NOT the same as breathing. Breathing is the physical part of the respiration process where we inhale and exhale the oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Now that you got all of that, I will babble on a bit more.  Putting it very very roughly, we have red blood flowing all through our bodies, like traffic on the motorway. Within this we have red blood cells, see these as a bunch of red people who drive red cars in the traffic. LOL Oxygen needs to get to work in tissues of the various parts of our bodies and hitches rides with the red blood cells to get there. Carbon Dioxide then hitches rides out of our bodies.

What the hell does all of this have to do with iron? Well those red blood cells are mainly made of a protein called Hemoglobin which carries the oxygen.  Iron is the main component of Hemoglobin. About 70% of the iron in the body is found in Hemoglobin. So there it is. We need iron for the production of haemoglobin and to aid in the transportation of oxygen to the tissues. In addition to this “iron is also needed to make new cells, hormones, neurotransmitters, and amino acids.”

Foods Rich in Iron

  • Lean red meat
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Brown rice
  • Tofu
  • Liver
  • Fish – especially oily fish like sardines and mackerel
  • Pulses & Beans – chick peas, lentils & baked beans
  • Green Leafy Veggies – particularly the dark greens like kale and spinach
  • Dried fruit – raisins and apricots
  • Peas

Symptoms of Low Iron

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Numbness or tingling feelings in the limbs
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cravings for ice, chalk, clay or even mud (less common)

Iron-Deficiency Anaemia – This is a very common and usually an easily treated deficiency and usually comes from have a lower than normal level of red blood cells. The lack of iron reduces the production of these blood cells.

 

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respiration_(physiology)

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/basics/prevention/con-20019327

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/hemoglobin_and_functions_of_iron/

http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/what-is-so-important-about-iron

 

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