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Iron Mineral 101

By Charlene J. Nuble

Iron is a mineral that is essential to the health and functioning of the body. Deficiencies in iron can have serious consequences for overall health and even energy levels. While iron is important for both sexes, it is of particular importance to women due to biological and reproductive factors. However, world wide, many people do not meet the minimum suggested daily intake of iron resulting in a variety of health problems that range from the mild, which simply increasing the daily iron intake could remedy, to the severe, which often require more complex treatments but could easily have been avoided by sufficient daily iron consumption.

Iron serves several purposes within the body. One of the most important functions of iron in the system is its role is oxygenating the blood. Another essential role of iron is energy metabolism. It is a factor of the neurodevelopment of babies as they grow and develop in the uterus. Iron also serves to promote the important functioning of the body's immune system particularly in the production of the white blood cells essential in fighting infection and disease. Iron is also essential in properly utilizing the B vitamins.

Women, because of their role in reproduction, need to be especially sure that their iron levels are sufficient especially during pregnancy as the healthy growth and development of their babies depends on it. Because of blood loss during menstruation, most women need to take a little extra precaution during that time period to make sure their iron levels stay at recommended levels.

Iron deficiencies can cause a variety of health problems. Anemia is by far the most common and it results in weakness, fatigue and, to the detriment especially of school children, an inability to concentrate properly. Oxygen is one of the most important life giving forces of the body and due to the essential role of iron in seeing to it that oxygen reaches all parts of the body, via the blood, general feelings of health and well-being rely on proper iron levels.

Dietary supplements that include iron, as well as iron enriched foods, play an important role world wide in achieving the recommended daily iron requirements of the human body. However, like any other dietary supplement or medicine, iron supplements must be used properly to be effective and to avoid inducing other serious health problems. Always remember also to couple your iron supplement drinking with ascorbic acid or vitamin C. This is to help the body absorb the iron more quickly.

An overdose of iron in small children can be fatal. Always keep iron supplements and vitamins that contain iron well out of the reach of children. A reminder for parents who wisely make use of a daily multivitamin and iron supplement for their children: if you are using those brightly colored, cartoon character types, always be sure to remind your children that those are powerful medicines and not merely candy. That way if the bottle is accidentally left down and the child does find it, they are less likely to overdose themselves with it and more likely to call it to your attention that you left it in their reach.

Iron is an essential nutrient for some of the body's very important functions and processes. For many years, dietary supplements have been a safe and trusted means of making sure to meet the recommended daily iron intake levels. When used properly, iron supplements are a good choice for helping to keep the body strong and healthy.


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