All living things are simply a composition of cells. These cells are very important, as they provide structure for the body, extract nutrients from food, convert nutrients to energy and carry out other special functions. In order to maintain healthy cells, we need to consume essential minerals like iron. Why? Iron greatly contributes to the transportation of oxygen throughout our body via our red bloods cells. This oxygenation makes our daily body functions more efficient and productive. We’ll elaborate on the mineral’s other health benefits below, so if you want to gain more insight, read on!
What is Iron?
Iron plays a vital role in the production and development of red blood cells in the body. The hemoglobin substance found in the red blood cells is where the majority of the body’s iron stored. Therefore, a low level of iron means slow hemoglobin production, resulting in reduced oxygen transport in the body, triggering fatigue and tiredness. This is why people who are diagnosed with anemia frequently feel tired. People deprived of iron can be vulnerable to bacterial infections and viruses, as it also affects the immune system.
The body loses iron through urination, sweating, defecation and the shedding of old skin cells. Another big factor in iron less is bleeding, which means women are more susceptible to a deficiency than men. Our body can’t produce iron itself, so we need to consume a sufficient amount from different food sources such as fruit, meat, vegetables and fish. People can also get an adequate amount of iron by taking supplements.
How Much Iron Does Our Body Need?
As mentioned earlier in this article, iron is essential for our daily bodily functions. It’s important to know the proper daily iron consumption amounts suitable for us. Listed below are the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) and UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Levels) of iron suitable for our body, depending on our age group:
|AGE (GROUP)||RDA (milligrams/day)||UL (milligrams/day)|
|1–3 years old||7||40|
|4–8 years old||10||40|
|9–13 years old||8||40|
|14–18 years old (men)||11||45|
|14–18 years old (women)||15||45|
|14–18 years old (lactating women)||10||45|
|14-18 years old (pregnant women)||27||45|
|19 years and older (men)||8||45|
|19-50 years old (pregnant women)||27||45|
|19-50 years old (lactating women)|
51 years and older women
Health Benefits of Iron
Consuming iron-rich foods in a balanced amount will surely offer considerable health benefits to our body. The following are some of the benefits we derive:
Boosts Wound Healing Process. Waiting for your wound to heal can be frustrating. However, iron can speed up the wound healing process by forming an adequate amount of red blood cells (RBC’s) to supply oxygen and other nutrients to the affected area.
Improves Brain Function. Our brain requires an adequate amount of iron for good cognitive function. As a matter of fact, our brain uses 20% of the oxygen found in our blood. Iron not only enhances the blood flow to our brain, but it also helps create new neutral passageways, preventing serious cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Improves Muscle Health. Iron is an important mineral that aids muscle functions. It is responsible for the production of myoglobin, a muscle protein that transports oxygen from hemoglobin and stores it in the muscle cells. Without it, our muscles will lose their tone, elasticity and strength.
Promotes Healthy and Glowing Skin. Pale skin and dark circles are common signs of anemia, which is caused by iron deficiency. A low level of iron in the blood reduces the production of red blood cells, which inhibits oxygen transfer throughout the body. Moreover, decreased oxygen flow prevents the skin from having its pinkish glow. Thus, eating considerable amounts of iron can induce healthy and glowing skin.
Treats Anemia. The leading cause of anemia is a low level of hemoglobin in the red blood cells due to iron deficiency. Anemia clearly indicates that the body ceases to create RBC’s progressively, which may trigger more serious problems, like organ failure. This kind of illness is very common, especially in children. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet can help them recover.
Treats Sleep Apnea. Iron can improve the sleeping habits of people who are suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea. Furthermore, proper red blood cell count can reduce the fluctuation of blood pressure, resulting in better sleep.