The human body contains approximately 3.5 – 4.5 of iron, 2/3 of which are found in the blood and the remaining part is stored in the liver, spleen, bone village rye and the muscles.
Iron is part of the hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in the muscles which is also called muscle hemoglobin and is tasked to carry and store the oxygen in the muscle tissues.
Despite the low content of iron in the body, due to its importance, it’s considered for unique microelement.
What role iron plays in body?
Iron in the hemoglobin participates in the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to all the cells, tissues and organs in the human body. And as we all know, without oxygen man can’t survive even for few minutes. This happens because the cells can’t do their work without any energy, which they receive as a result of complex biochemical reactions where the oxygen plays the main role.
A few words about the hemoglobin. Hemoglobin consists of two parts, one part is a large protein molecule called hemo and the second – non-protein part is called globin in whose environment we can find an ion of iron. It is known that oxygen is oxidizing agent, but when the iron in the hemoglobin binds with the oxygen, there is no oxidation.
In fact the ion of the iron “grabs the hand” of the molecule of the oxygen and “takes” it where it’s needed and where the actual oxygen reaction happens. There the iron “loosens” the molecule of the oxygen and “accepts” the carbon dioxide (obtained as a result of the oxidation) and it carries it to the lungs. So, the oxygen is entered in the cells with the help of the hemo and is equaled with the globin.
Iron needs per day?
The daily amount for men is 10mg, for women – 18mg, for pregnant women – 20mg, for women who breastfeed – 25mg. The need of iron is higher while doing physical work, doing sports, working in conditions of reduced oxygen (eg. Climbers), suffering blood loss and intestines illnesses.
What are the main sources of iron?
The main source of iron is meat and fish. The degree of the adoption from the liver is the highest, not because of the amount, but because it is in a form, which is easier adoptable by the body. Iron rich products are lentils, oats, wheat, semolina, egg yolk. Small amounts of iron can be found in vegetables such as cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, beets, onions, watermelon, pumpkin, potatoes, beans and some fruits like strawberries, grapes, lemon, plum, dried apricot, raisins, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
The table below contains the presence of the iron in 100g of the certain products. Data is according to German dietitians.
||Iron per 100 g
||Iron per 100g
||0.5 – 1 mg
||Onions, celery, lettuce
However, you should be aware that the degree of adoption varies from product to product, and from some products is even unadoptable. This brings the next question: Why is the adoption of the iron from some products better than from others?
The chemists recognize bivalent and trivalent iron. For some reason, the bivalent iron is adopted in the body, while the trivalent isn’t.
The iron in the meat products is bivalent and almost completely adoptable, while the iron in the plant products is mainly trivalent, so in order to be adopted it should first convert, actually reduce to bivalent.
This could be achieved by the oxidants, known as reducers, which reduce the trivalent to bivalent iron. If the food from the plant products contains vitamin C as well as iron, than such iron will transfer to the blood completing its task. The human body receives 20% iron from meat and meat products and only 6% from plant products. If you are a vegetarian this is something you should consider.
Deficiency of iron in the body
The lack of iron in the body means decreased quantity of hemoglobin, decreased delivery of oxygen and that means ANEMIA. The brain and the kidneys are the first that suffer from the lack of iron and oxygen. The man who is lacking iron is pale, apathetic, slow responding, just because his brain constantly experiences lack of oxygen.
The decreasing of the iron in the body occurs from lack of food, as well as extensive bleeding. Such deficiency leads to reduced immunity, highly susceptible to infections, constant weakness, headaches, blurred vision, constant fatigue, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, brittle nails, dry mouth and pale face skin. In the case of children, such deficiency leads to stagnation of the growth and their mental development.
Mainly iron enters the body through food. However, iron absorption depends not only on the amount of iron in the product, but also on the degree of iron adoption of the same product.
What helps and what doesn’t the adoption of the iron in the human body?
Vitamin C, vitamin B12,vitamin B6 and folic acid help the adoption. They not only help the adoption of iron, but they also make the products easily digestible. If you are treating anemia with various prescribed medication, than you should also take vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, B12. All of them help the adoption of iron. The ideal ratio of iron and vitamin C can be found in dill, parsley and celery. Apart from the vitamins, the adoption of the iron can be enhanced by some microelements, such as copper, cobalt, manganese.
On the contrary, fat, phosphate, oxalic acid and tannins in coffee and tea make the adoption difficult. Therefore, if you are anemic do not consume coffee during and after the meal. The deficit of iron can be also caused by the presence of calcium and sugar. The wheat and the other cereals bind the iron and make it not available for the body. Therefore, meat should not be eaten with bread or pasta, but with potatoes, peas, cabbage and other vegetables.