Why Your Body Needs Iron
Written by: Brandi Monasco
Iron is very vital to your body.
We’re not talking about pumping iron; we’re talking about the essential nutrient that your body relies on day in and day out.
Roughly 10% of American women are iron deficient (CDC). According to a scientific consultant at the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, “The major reason we need it is that it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body.”
Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which is the protein that is found in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs and transports it throughout the rest of your body. Without having enough iron in your body, your body cannot produce enough red blood cells to carry the oxygen throughout your body. When this happens, iron deficiency can occur and can cause anemia.
The amount of iron that you need depends on a variety of things, such as your age, gender and your overall health.
- Birth to 6 months: 0.27 mg for both male and female
- 7 months to 12 months: 11 mg
- 1 year to 3 years: 7 mg
- 4 to 8 years: 10 mg
- 9 to 13 years: 8 mg
- 14 to 18 years: 11 mg for male / 15 mg for female
- 19 to 50 years: 8 mg for male / 18 mg for female
- 51+ years: 8 mg for both male and female
- Pregnant females between the ages of 14 and 50 years: 27 mg of iron each day
Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency:
- Cold hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Fast heartbeat
- Have strange cravings such as dirt
- Brittle or spoon shaped nails
- Hair loss
- Sore tongue
- Sores at the corner of your mouth
- Extreme fatigue and exhaustion
- Frequent infections
- Pale skin
- Restless legs syndrome
Causes Of Iron Deficiency:
- Not eating enough iron-rich foods
- Internal bleeding caused by a stomach ulcer, polyps, colon cancer
- Inability to absorb iron such as celiac disease. Having intestinal surgery can also limit your ability to absorb iron.
The best way to prevent yourself from having low iron levels is to make sure that you are eating enough foods that are rich in iron, such as:
- Red meat
- Dried fruit such as apricots and raisins
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
Do you have any good iron-rich recipes? Please share with us in the comments below!
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Brandi Monasco is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media manager from Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and has recently found a new love for health and nutrition.
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