Spinach a day keeps the doctor away: The importance of Iron

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Spinach a day keeps the doctor away: The importance of Iron

Spinach a day keeps the doctor away: The importance of Iron

Iron-proteins are present in hemoglobin oxygen-transporters in red blood cells. Iron is an important mineral used to help red blood cells deliver oxygen to the respiratory system and throughout the body. Iron has three main functions: carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, maintaining a healthy immune system and aiding energy production.

Really good sources of iron are found in red meat, beans, poultry, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, fortified bread and many foods. Iron found in meats are called hemes and can be easily absorbed compared to iron found in vegetables, non-hemes. Iron supplements are also used as a source.

Anemia is an iron deficiency described as having an insufficient amount of red blood hemoglobin to properly transport oxygen throughout the body. There are at least 1.62 billion cases of anemia world wide and more than half are due to iron deficiency. Some signs of anemia are fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, cold hands and feet and chest pain.

An adult with normal intestinal function has very little risk of iron overdose. However, too much iron can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting and gastric upset. In extreme cases overdose can lead to organ failure and even death. The tolerable upper limit intake levels of iron for healthy individuals are around 40mg for age's birth to 13 years and 45mg for 14 years and up and pregnant woman.

Importance and functions

Food sources

Deficiencies and ailments

Toxicity and Symptoms

ReferencesIron dietary supplement fact sheet. (2015, November 24). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/What are the signs and symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia? (2014, March 24). Retrieved from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ida/signsIron. (2015, November 9). Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/iron.html


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