Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iron -The Transporter of Oxygen

Humans use iron in the hemoglobin of red blood cells, in order to transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and to export carbon dioxide back to the lungs. And iron is an essential component of myoglobin to store oxygen in muscle cells. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia.

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the dietary intake or absorption of iron is insufficient, and hemoglobin, which contains iron, cannot be formed. Additionally, iron deficiency anemia has a negative effect on physical growth. Growth hormone secretion is related to serum transferring levels, suggesting a positive correlation between iron-transferring levels and an increase in height and weight.

Iron found in?
Iron is found in red meat, cereal, products, bread, eggs, pulses and dried fruit and is essential for formation of red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. A good intake of iron is also necessary for energy, intellectual performance and vitality.

Recommended daily dose
The recommended daily dose is 7 to 10 mg for children, 18 mg for menstruating women and 8mg for other adults.

How much is too much?
Acute toxicity can occur from overdoses of iron in children. Five or six high potency tablets is enough to cause liver failure in children. Lower doses can cause severe symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In adults high intakes of iron supplements are associated with constipation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, especially when supplements are taken on an empty stomach.

Who should take regular iron supplements?
People who don’t eat red meat, woman with heavy monthly periods can lose a significant amount of iron and those who have lost a significant amount of blood after surgery. Specially mixed iron supplements are available for pregnant women, children and older people.
Note that iron supplements must be kept out of the reach of children, as iron-containing supplements are a frequent cause of poisoning in the pediatric age group.
Iron is a very essential vitamin which should be used in moderation.

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