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Iron Deficiency


One in five women and half of all pregnant women are iron deficient. Iron deficiency is the most common known form of nutritional deficiency. In the human body, iron is present in all cells and has several vital functions.

Iron is a part of many enzymes and is used in many cell functions.

Enzymes help our bodies digest foods and also help with many other important reactions that occur within our bodies.

Iron deficiency known as anemia is common, especially in women.

One in five women and half of all pregnant women are iron deficient.

Iron deficiency is the most common known form of nutritional deficiency.

In the human body, iron is present in all cells and has several vital functions as a carrier of oxygen to the tissues from the lungs in the form of hemoglobin, as a transport medium for electrons within the cells in the form of cytochromes, and as an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues.

Total body iron averages approximately 3.8 g in men and 2.3 g in women.

There are several mechanisms that control human iron metabolism and safeguard against iron deficiency. The main regulatory mechanism is situated in the gastrointestinal tract. Iron stores normally passes through several stages.

Stage 1 - Lowered iron stores: stores are reduced, but not exhausted, and there are no clinical effects.

Stage 2 - Iron depletion: Biochemical deficiency without anaemia.

Stage 3 - Iron deficiency anaemia: with no iron left in the marrow, haemoglobin production falls to the point where haemoglobin concentration is below the reference range.

Iron deficiency is a concern because it can iron deficiency can delay normal infant motor function (normal activity and movement) or mental function (normal thinking and processing skills).

Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy can increase risk for small or early (preterm) babies. Small or early babies are more likely to have health problems or die in the first year of life than infants who are born full term and are not small.

Iron deficiency can cause fatigue that impairs the ability to do physical work in adults.

There can be a great difference between iron intake and iron absorption, also known as bioavailability.

Epinephrine is used to counter anaphylactic shock, and Chelation therapy is used to manage secondary iron overload.

Microencapsulation with lecithin, which binds and protects the iron particles from the action of inhibiting substances.

Iron almost always turns stools black, which is a harmless side effect.

Iron can be given by injection, but this usually isn't necessary. Iron deficiency can have serious health consequences that diet may not be able to quickly correct, and iron supplementation is often necessary if the iron deficiency has become symptomatic.

Iron from nonheme sources is more readily absorbed if consumed with foods that contain either heme-bound iron or vitamin C. Legumes and dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach are especially good sources of iron for vegetarians and vegans.

Iron bioavailability comparisons require stringent controls, because the largest factor affecting bioavailability is the subject's existing iron levels.

Fortification with ascorbic acid, which increases bioavailability in both presence and absence of inhibiting substances, but which is subject to deterioration from moisture or heat. Ascorbic acid fortification is usually limited to sealed dried foods, but individuals can easily take ascorbic acid with basic iron supplement for the same benefits.

Iron Deficiency Treatment Tips:

1. Venesection and avoidance of excess iron (particularly in iron supplements).

2. Medications, such as oral contraceptives to lighten heavy menstrual flow.

3. Antibiotics and other medications to treat peptic ulcers.

4. Eating plenty of iron-containing foods is particularly important for people who have higher iron requirements, such as children and menstruating or pregnant women.

5. Foods rich in iron include red meat, seafood, poultry and eggs.

6. Plant-based foods also are good sources of iron, although they're less easily absorbed.

7. Surgery to remove a bleeding polyp, a tumor or a fibroid.

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