Nutrition and Information Guide: Minerals Iron

About the mineral iron, nutritional information guide, uses, effects of deficiency or overdose, good sources of iron.


Use in the Body: Necessary for the formation of myoglobin, which transports oxygen to muscle tissue, and hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood.

Deficiency May Lead to: Iron deficiency anemia (reduction of hemoglobin in the red blood cells), which in turn reduces oxygen carried in the blood to vital organs. This results in pallid skin and loss of energy.

Overdose May Lead to: The body stores iron for future use. However, alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, and pancreas insufficiency may result in excessive iron deposits in the liver and spleen. Excessive intake of iron leads to toxicity.

Notes: Iron is the 2nd most essential trace element in the body. It is a component of every body cell. The body stores iron primarily in the liver, spleen, blood, and bone marrow, conserving it for future use rather than absorbing it. Since vitamin C changes iron's composition and makes it easier for the body to use, the 2 should be taken together. Also, the body absorbs more iron from beans when they are eaten with meat, which also contains a good deal of iron. Additional iron is required during pregnancy, lactation, menstruation, hemorrhage, growth periods (in children), and loss of blood. Many nutritionists claim that iron deficiency anemia is fairly common in this country; at least 250,000 women have it at any given time. Iron has been beneficial in the treatment of alcoholism, leukemia, colitis (inflammation of the colon), nail disorders, scurvy, worms, peptic ulcers, and teeth and gum disorders.

Best Sources: Organ meats (especially liver), shellfish, molasses, beans, green leafy vegetables, egg yolks.

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