Iron is a metal which is very important for human physiology. This is one of the most common metals on the Earth. Iron is also necessary for many life forms. Iron carries oxygen to blood cells and regulates growth and differentiation of cells. If you have low levels of iron your cells won’t have enough oxygen what causes weakened immunity, fatigue and bad work performance. Also, it is not good if you high levels of iron because it can cause death.
Iron is found mostly (about two and half thirds) in haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is protein in red blood cells. This protein is important because it carries oxygen to tissues. Also, low levels of iron are found in enzymes important for biochemical reactions and in protein that carries oxygen to muscles. A protein which carries iron to blood and stores iron also contains iron in small amounts.
Supplements of iron are used when person has iron deficiency and diet is not enough to increase levels of iron. Iron supplements are very important for people who have iron deficiency anemia. Oral iron supplements are used to restore levels of iron storage and to restore hemoglobin in red blood cells. Storage form of iron is called serum ferritin.
Iron supplements have two forms: ferric and ferrous. Ferrous iron supplements contain iron salts such as ferrous gluconate, ferrous fumarate and ferrous sulfate. These iron salts are the best absorbed of all iron supplements. If person take increases dose of iron supplement, absorption of iron decreases. It is recommended to take 2 or 3 doses spaced equally of iron supplement daily. But each person has different needs and dosage prescription depends on person`s need.
Person who takes iron supplements for anemia caused by iron deficiency can have side effects. Common side effects are abdominal stress, vomiting, dark colored stools, diarrhea and nausea. In this case, person needs to take half of recommended dose and then increases dose slowly to full recommended dose. Also, for reducing side effects is good taking iron supplements with food.
There are very rare conditions of iron deficiency when needed intravenous parenteral iron. Doctors have to carefully consider this option.
Postmenopausal women and male adults should not take iron supplements because iron deficiency is not common for them. They can take iron supplements only if doctor prescribe them. If those people take iron supplements they could be iron overloaded. This means that blood has high levels of iron and it is stored in liver or heart. Excessive iron can cause hemochromatosis. This is genetic disease that damages organs. Also, iron overload can cause and few other genetic diseases. Also, person who needs frequent blood transfusions should not take iron supplements because of the risk of iron overload.
Plant foods and animal foods contain iron. Animal iron is called heme iron. Turkey and beef are rich in heme iron. Iron found in plant foods is non-heme iron. Lentils and beans are rich in non-heme iron.