Importance Of Iron Supplements
Feeling tired? No energy? Maybe you are not getting enough iron in your diet! Iron is an essential mineral that helps the development of healthy blood, and it is a crucial mineral for maintaining our overall well-being and health. Iron-deficiency anemia is caused by iron deficiency, the most prevalent nutritional deficiency in the world, resulting in severe exhaustion and dizziness. Although it affects people of all ages, children, women who are pregnant or in menstruation, and dialysis patients are the ones who are most at risk for it.
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Iron is a crucial element of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs to every part of your body. Fatigue results from a lack of red blood cells, which carry oxygen, which results due to insufficient iron in the body. Additionally, myoglobin, a protein that carries and stores oxygen in muscle tissues, has iron as a component. Iron is essential for children's healthy brain development, growth, and function of various cells and hormones.
Benefits of Iron
The benefits of iron include:
- Provides good energy levels.
- Reduces tiredness and fatigue .
- Improves both mental and physical performance.
- It helps normal cognitive functions supporting attention span, decision-making, reasoning, learning, and intelligence.
- Helps with many vital functions within the body.
- Assists with a healthy pregnancy.
- Supports muscle growth and body development.
- Helps with athletic performance.
- Contributes to good health and vitality.
- Supports vaccine efficacy.
What are Iron Supplements?
Taking iron supplements can help restore iron levels to a healthy level in the body since some people do not consume enough iron from their food. A doctor may advise taking iron supplements if a person does not have enough iron in their body. Additionally, non-prescription iron supplements are available. There are several supplements available in the market, and they all differ in the quantity of iron they contain. While they are frequently pills, some are also offered as liquids.
Some iron supplements include vitamin C in the formulation since it improves the body's ability to absorb iron. The types of iron in supplements include:
- Ferrous sulfate
- Ferrous gluconate
- Ferric citrate
- Ferric sulfate
*Note - Before taking any supplements, it is best to speak with a Doctor.
There are two categories of iron in foods: haem and non-haem. Compared to non-haem iron, which is present in plant foods; haem iron, which is present in meat, poultry, and seafood, is more easily absorbed.
Animal-Based Sources Of Iron
Top animal-based sources of iron include:
- Meat & Organ meat (liver,spleen )
- Fish or shellfish (salmon, sardines, tuna)
Plant-Based Sources Of Iron
Plant foods containing non-haem iron can still provide an adequate amount for the body. Good sources include:
- Nuts & oil seeds : Gingelly seeds, garden cress seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, sesame seeds and water melon seeds.
- Dried fruit ( dry dates, figs, dry grapes )
- Whole grains and millets
- Iron-fortified breakfast cereals
- Legumes ( kidney beans, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas, soya beans)
- Dark leafy green vegetables ( mint, spring onions,Curry leaves, coriander leaves, Amaranth leaves, Gogu, Basella, methi leaves )
How Can We Take Iron-Rich Supplements?
It would be best to have a vitamin C-rich beverage, such as a glass of orange juice or similar juice with additional vitamin C, along with your iron supplement on an empty stomach (ideally one hour before a meal).
Importance of Iron-Rich Supplements
Food, tea, and milk all inhibit the absorption of iron from the stomach; therefore, it is best to avoid them for an hour before and after taking an iron supplement.
Some drugs, especially those that lower stomach acid (antacids) and some antibiotics, impact iron absorption in the gut. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of your other medications might influence the effectiveness of iron supplements.
Vitamin C is the sole substance that enhances iron absorption.
Because of this, we advise pairing your supplement with a vitamin C-rich beverage.
How Much Iron Should I Take?
Iron recommendation varies by age and gender:
- Infants between 7 to 12 months old; 5 milligrams/day
- Children between 1 to 3 years: 9 milligrams/day
- Children between 4 to 6 years: 13 milligrams/day
- Children between 7 to 9 years: 16 milligrams/day
- Children between 10 to 12 years: 21 milligrams/day
- Boys between 13 to 17 years: 28 milligrams/day
- Females between 14 to 18 years: 28 milligrams/day
- Male between 19 and older: 17 milligrams/day
- Females between 19 to 50 years: 21 milligrams/day
- Females between 51 years and older after menopause: 8 milligrams/day
In pregnancy, the requirement increases to 35 milligrams/day. A woman's breastfeeding requires 21 milligrams/per day.
Side Effects Of Iron Supplements
The common side effects of iron supplements include nausea,vomiting , diarrhea, black stools, or constipation . Constipation is a problem that affects a lot of pregnant women; therefore, increasing your dietary fiber consumption can help. A stool softener may also help you feel better.
Indications For Low Iron Levels
Low iron levels are common, especially in some groups of people. If left untreated, they may develop into more severe conditions. One may experience the following symptoms:
- A lack of energy
- Shortness of breath
- Concentration Difficulties
- Often feeling cold
- Pale skin
- Heart palpitations
- Hearing ringing, hissing, or buzzing noises inside your head
- A sore tongue or difficulty swallowing
- Changes in the way food tastes
- Hair loss
- Painful open sores in the corners of the mouth
- Spoon-shaped nails
- Restless leg syndrome
In conclusion, iron deficiency or anemia patients may benefit from taking iron supplements. However, as too much iron may be hazardous, it's important to speak with a physician before starting any supplement routine. Additionally, dietary adjustments such as consuming more iron-rich foods should be considered as a first line of treatment before using supplements. Iron supplements can be helpful, but it's essential to use them under a doctor's supervision.