IRON is a crucial micro-mineral for the body.Low levels of iron in the blood can cause anemia. Symptoms of anemia include but are not limited to: dizziness, paleness of skin, headaches, cold hands and digestive problems. It can also weaken the immune system. Children with anemia can develop learning problems later on.
Excessive iron level is also a problem. It is toxic to the body. Free iron in the blood is pro-oxidant, which causes damage to your cells.
God’s design of the body ensures that iron absorption, through the gastrointestinal tract, is tightly regulated. It is regulated by the hormone called “hepcidin.” If your body has high stores of iron, hepcidin makes sure that the absorption of iron is reduced. The opposite is true when the iron stores are low.
Acute iron poisoning takes place when you overdose in iron supplements. Iron supplement overdose occurs when you take doses beyond the maximum recommended, take high doses for too long, or suffer from any genetic disorder.
Take note that iron is stored in the body, usually in proteins like transferrin. So, you do not have to take it every day if you take high doses. Excessive supplement intake can overwhelm the hepcidin activity, accumulate iron in storage organs, and may lead to fatal damage to brain and liver cells.
The richest sources of iron are meats: beef, pork, poultry and fish. The redder the meat, the higher the iron content is. The problem with red meat, however, is its high bad cholesterol content, which makes it a bad source for iron in the long-term.
Here are some safer sources of rich iron content: oysters, white beans, lentils and spinach. Iron from beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables needs some meat to improve the absorption. The body does not absorb iron from vegetables without the help of meat. Thus, a small amount of meat can be necessary.
Iron supplementation is usually unnecessary for men and menopausal women. Diet sources are usually enough to cover daily needs. Men only need 8 mg daily through life, while pre-menopausal women need twice as high. Pregnancy needs 27 mg daily. After age 50, women need only 8 mg daily.