Iron is one of the most important minerals in human body and has to be taken on daily bases. Apart from being taken in required amount it needs to be properly absorbed in order to reach the blood and be transferred to the very site where it is being utilized.
Iron is the main component of hemoglobin, a protein necessary for adequate distribution of oxygen to all the body cells. Insufficient intake of iron and its inappropriate absorption from the gastrointestinal track has major influence of proper body functioning and leads to many imbalances. Iron deficiency anemia is only one of them.
Absorption of Iron
Iron is basically absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, to be more precise in the small intestine. Other parts of the gastrointestinal tract only contribute to its breaking down and make the process of the absorption much easier.
The absorption starts in the duodenum, the proximal part of the small intestine. The very process is initiated by a specific class of cells called enterocytes. They form a superficial layer of the duodenum.
What determines whether the iron is going to be absorbed or not is its chemical form. Only if it is in a form of Fe2+, iron can be successfully absorbed. This form of iron can be found in different foods. However, if iron is in Fe3+ form it needs to be reduced to Fe2+ form to be properly absorbed.
To satisfy recommended daily doses of iron, people must consume food rich in this mineral. The main source of iron is red meat. It can be also found in poultry products, leafy vegetables and some fruits.
Improper absorption of iron can be caused either by insufficient intake of this important mineral of be a consequence of inappropriate functioning of the small intestine. The last mentioned usually occurs due to certain illnesses which affect the small intestine and interfere in normal absorption not only of iron but also of many other nutrients.
Iron and Hemoglobin
Iron is essential component of hemoglobin. Once it has been absorbed iron is engaged in process of heme production. Namely, hemoglobin consists of proteins and heme group which contains iron. Hemoglobin is vital for transfer of oxygen. This protein is highly effective in binding of one of the most important nutrients in the body. This makes it clear why the shortage of iron supply typically leads to insufficient production of hemoglobin and consequent iron deficiency anemia. Improper intake of iron or its inadequate absorption must be treated properly with certain foods or supplements. It is also necessary to find the underlying condition which has led to the onset of iron deficiency.