Published: 12/19/2005 - Updated: 08/13/2019
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
Iron is a vital nutrient for humans because it is part of the blood cells that carry oxygen to all body cells. Approximately 30% of iron is stored in our body to replace the iron lost easily. Iron is essential in the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin to carry oxygen in the blood and muscles. Iron is one of several proteins and enzymes in the body.
Iron is present in us in 45 mg. per kilo of weight. It is a trace element that passes the blood with foods rich in it.
The need for iron varies by state and constitution of the individual. Women, for example, lose much iron in their menstrual cycle, up to 20 mg. Infants have an innate reserve in the liver until mid year. During the period of breastfeeding, the baby needs a supply of iron from 6 to 15 mg. per day. The demand for iron increases with age but the females are those most in need due to losses during the period.
As a general rule, more or less balanced diets, often exceeding the minimum recommended daily amount, but if life is rather sedentary and has 2,000 calories, may be lacking in iron.
For that iron is not a problem, we must turn to foods such as offal, liver, meat, egg yolk, whole wheat, seafood, vegetables, nine, legumes, nuts and some fruits such as pear, apple, apricots, strawberries and raspberries, oranges and cherries.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency but rarely expresses total, partial deficiency is widespread worldwide. Anemia has a very close relationship with the deficiencies of this mineral. There is a type of anemia known as hypochromic for the loss and the inability of iron to form hemoglobin, vitamin deficiency (B12), folic acid or by lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Symptoms of reduction in iron reserves are: fatigue, short breath, headache, irritability, and / or lethargy. If you have symptoms of constant fatigue and unusual, you should visit your doctor. There are many causes of such symptoms. The only take iron supplements may not be the solution to renew your energy.
People who are at risk of having low iron reserves, include:
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- Women of childbearing age, because of menstruation.
- Pregnant women, due to the needs of the baby and blood loss during delivery.
- The babies usually are born with iron reserves lasting approximately 6 months. The iron needs must be met with breast milk and iron supplement or a fortified infant formula with iron. As babies go to ingest solid foods, you may not get enough iron in them. All babies need to take breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
- Children between 1 and 4 years of age are at risk due to rapid growth and lack of sufficient iron in their diets, unless you provide supplements or foods fortified with iron. Milk is a very poor source of iron. Children who drink large quantities of milk at the expense of other foods may develop "milk anemia." Restrict the consumption of milk to a quart or less per day. The suggested consumption of milk is 2 to 3 cups per day Children who are just starting to walk.
- Adolescents, both boys and girls have been traditionally prone to anemia due to the rapid growth rate, food habits and capricious concerns about physical appearance.
- We also need to consider the possibility that iron is a concern for its excess. In this case, the explanations tend to lie in the massive destruction of red blood cells by malaria or anemia hemolytic transfusion or numerous. This excess is beyond the body and causes siderosis, a disease that causes cirrhosis.
Factors that influence the absorption of Iron
The type of iron is the best in meats, fish and poultry and is not as good for other meats, eggs and food of plant origin. This is because these foods have amino acids that help its absorption. In addition, there are nutrients or substances in food and helps the absorption such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that facilitates the absorption of iron or cite tannins, carbonates, oxalates, phosphates, tea … which decreases the absorption of iron and make it clear though numbers are within normal, we have a deficit of absorption which may be important.
To avoid iron deficiency you can try with dietary supplements that must always be prescribed optionally or using fortified foods, enriched in iron that is most common in the treatment of infant feeding and at the first stages of life.
You can also select foods in the eating, and can increase meat and fish together in the presence of vitamin C foods and avoiding excessive grain and some vegetables are rich in oxalates (you can see in the section) and not taking a lot of tea or coffee.
In other megaloblastic anemias there is usually a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folic acid. The problem here is that it usually takes enough vitamin B12 in Spain, especially in foods of animal origin, and meat in particular, but folic acid is often deficient. We recommend that you take food that is abundant in the east (see corresponding section) such as vegetables, green leafy vegetables, etc., but also on prescription can enhance the diet with a supplement, at least for a while until they become normal levels of it.
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When there is vitamin B12 deficiency, diets rich in proteins are recommended, although there are cases where the fault is in the intrinsic factor of the vitamin and to be treated with drugs.
Other anemias are caused by copper deficiency, which is rare and occurs occasionally in children who have an exclusive diet of cow's milk or formulas that do not have a sufficient amount of copper. With a diet adequate in copper or for a while with a copper supplement is usually enough.
Other causes of anemia may be due to protein-calorie malnutrition of which we have spoken and called anemia that responded to the administration of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and which responds to the administration of vitamin E, which is a type of hemolytic anemia
Conduct a balanced diet to ensure that there is no shortage, especially during the first years of life (breast milk is a food low in iron), periods of accelerated growth (adolescence) and physiological situations that involve the characteristics that need special care in providing dietary iron (menstruation, pregnancy, lactation).
Vegetables should be taken to include interest as an ingredient plate of food rich in vitamin C (peppers, tomatoes) or proteins (meat, fish, egg) and a salad and a dessert of fruit rich in vitamin C, so that the body can absorb the maximum amount of iron plant.
Germination is a process that leads to profound changes of the food, increase the amount of iron assimilated. Therefore, when preparing salads, try to include sprouts.
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