The body is indeed something extraordinary. Assuming that it is made up of many constituents, everything in it is of paramount importance for its proper functioning to transport oxygen etc. There are thousands of elements of it throughout the body that cannot all be cited in this article. Each of these elements also has its own characteristics, their origins, but also their locations in the body. Among these elements is what is called iron. So what about this element? Its properties, the role it plays in the body, how it works. In this article, you will learn the facts about iron.

Iron: what is it?

By way of definition, iron is a specific element of the human body. More precisely, a trace element that exists in small quantities in the body, especially in red blood cells. There are about 2.5 to 4 g of iron which are well distributed in the hemoglobins of red blood cells, in the myoglobins of red muscles, and through the many enzymatic reactions necessary for cellular respiration. In the periodic table of chemical elements, iron has the symbol Fe.

Iron also comes in two different forms including: heme iron from meats, and non-heme iron from plants and dairy products.

What roles does Iron play in the body ?

Iron is a main player for the proper functioning of the metabolism. On the list, for example, it is an important constituent of hemoglobin in red blood cells, myoglobin, that is, the factor in the supply of oxygen to many organs throughout the body.

Apart from this, iron is part of the structure of many enzymes, which also play a key role in metabolic reactions such as DNA synthesis or the production of catecholamines.

Iron is also involved in cytochromes, which are the main players in the production of energy for cells.

But in addition to that, iron is an important building block for growing children. It is involved in the development of cognitive functions (information processing capacity).

And finally, iron is involved in the anti-infective immune response, the body’s tolerance to straining, and the balance of internal temperature.

The absorption of iron in the body

As stated in the previous paragraphs, iron comes in two forms including heme iron and non-heme iron. They both come from very different dietary sources, and of course iron absorption depends primarily on the source. Regularly, daily food allows the body to obtain between 10 to 15 mg of iron per day. Except that 1 to 2 mg of the latter is absorbed in a part of the body including the small intestine.

Heme iron absorbed by the body is between 15% to 25%, while for non-heme iron it is between 2% to 20%. As a reminder, heme iron comes from meat and fish, and heme iron comes from fibers and dairy products. Also, secretions in the pancreas and gastric acidity have an impact on the absorption of iron in general.

After the iron absorption step, it is attached to transferrin to be transported to the target cells. Following this, the amount of iron eliminated daily varies between 1 to 2 mg per day. This mechanism takes place in the stool after being stored in the storage organs (spleen, liver, bone marrow).

Iron to prevent anemia during pregnancy

The risk of anemia during pregnancy is especially high if the mother has a severe iron deficiency. In this case, there may be a risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, or low birth weight of the baby. This is mainly due to the fact that during pregnancy iron absorption increases exponentially. In these terms, supplementation is advised in case the mother is suffering from iron deficiency. Avoid consuming tea during meals, take it 30 minutes after. Also avoid foods that can make it harder to absorb iron.
Instead, eat foods high in iron and fruits that are also high in iron.

Iron to reduce daily fatigue

Lack of iron in the body can lead to general fatigue. Its involvement in the proper functioning of the metabolism also allows it to correct the phenomena of fatigue. Which means that iron supplementation would not be refused in order to stay in good shape.

In short, iron is a chemical building block for the human body. It plays an important role in making the body function normally, but also in correcting problems such as: anemia, fatigue. However, its absorption must be balanced so as not to have a risk of excess or deficiency.