Iron is an essential mineral (essential for life). Iron is involved in the transport of oxygen in red blood cells. The protein haemoglobin, found in red blood cells, is responsible for oxygen transport. Iron is one of the building blocks of haemoglobin, and it is the electron structure of iron that allows it to bind oxygen.
It also serves as a building block for myoglobin, myoglobin transports oxygen to muscles and connective tissues, thus iron also stimulates oxygen transport to muscles and connective tissues.
It also plays a role in growth and development of the nervous system and affects hormones.
Iron deficiency is very common (affecting almost a quarter of people) and is accompanied by anaemia. Symptoms of anaemia:
- Pale skin and conjunctivae
- Fatigue, weakness, reduced performance,
- Dizziness, headache
- Visual disturbances
Indicates iron deficiency in the blood count:
- low hemoglobin (hgb)
- low transferrin level
- low red blood cell count (RBC)
- low serum iron concentration
- elevated iron binding capacity (IBC)
- Dark chocolate
- Beef liver and beef
- Spinach, lentils, tofu, beans, chickpeas, tomatoes
- Shellfish, sardines
- Cashew nuts
Recommended daily intake of iron (RDI):
- For men: 8 mg
- For women: 18 mg
- During pregnancy: 27 mg
- During breastfeeding: 9 mg
As can be seen, women have a much higher iron requirement, which can be explained by menstrual bleeding. During excessive bleeding, the female body is at increased risk of iron deficiency, and therefore the recommended intake is higher for women.
The tolerable upper limit is 45 mg. Take care not to exceed the upper limit to avoid side effects.