Iron and its requirement for our body

Symbol – Fe

Atomic Number – 26

Period – 4

Group – 8

Main ions of iron – Ferrous (Fe2+) and ferric (Fe3+)

Average adult human contains – 0.005% body weight of iron

Out of this, three quarters are present in hemoglobin.

This level remains constant, despite which 1 gm of iron is absorbed each day because the human body recycles its hemoglobin for iron content.

Hemoglobin is a oxygen carrier that occurs in RBC and transports oxygen in arteries from the lungs to the muscles  muscles to myoglobin → myoglobin stores it until it is needed for metabolic oxidation of glucose for generating energy→ Here it binds to carbon dioxide (which is produced when glucose is oxidized)→ which is transported via veins back to lungs where it is exhaled.

Red blood cells (RBC) are made in bone marrow and have a life span of 120 days.

Foods rich in iron and vitamin B group can help you to maintain healthy RBC.

The only problem is we don’t think about the iron store unless we are diagnosed with a disease.

 Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.

When iron loss is not compensated by dietary intake, than a state of latent iron deficiency occurs, which leads to iron deficiency anemia.

Dietary iron deficiency anemia – is caused mostly in children, women who are of child bearing age and people with poor diet.

Iron deficiency anemia can also be caused by sudden chronic loss of blood ( uterine fibroid, peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers) or inability to absorb enough iron from food ( coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, hiatal hernia)

Sickle cell anemia – is inherited disorder in which RBC are shaped like half moon. Due to change in the shape of RBC, it becomes sticky and the smooth flow is disrupted through blood vessels. This causes acute or chronic pain which may lead to organ damage or infection. Also the lifespan of sickle cells is very less (10-20 days in comparison to 120 days).

Normocytic anemia – is caused due to long standing diseases like kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, tuberculosis, hypothyroidism. RBC are normal in shape and size, but low in  number.

Hemolytic anemia – In this type of inherited auto-immune anemia the lifespan of RBC are reduced. The RBC are destroyed by abnormal process. As a result, the number of RBC becomes low.

Fanconi anemia – It is rare inherited type of disorder in which your bone marrow isn’t able to make enough of components of blood including RBC. Children born with fanconi anemia sometimes develop leukemia (cancer of body blood forming tissues).

Drugs and medications – antibiotics, anti-inflammatory or anti-coagulatory medications can cause iron loss from body.

Alcohol – Alcohol causes iron deficiency in body. Consumption of moderate amount of alcohol on regular basis can too cause iron loss.

Malaria and septicemia – can reduce the lifespan of RBC and hence can cause iron deficiency.

Symptoms of Low Iron count (Anemia) –

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Frequent headaches
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Palpitations
  • Appetite loss, weakness
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Strange food cravings (pica)

High Iron count – May develop due to faulty consumption of iron supplements.

Symptoms are –

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Weight loss
  • Skin becomes grayish (grayish discoloration)

If not treated immediately than it can proceed to damaging cells in liver, heart and can cause coma, shock, liver failure, adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

It is very difficult to excrete excess iron from body, hence proper care must be taken.

Dietary Recommendations –

1 year – 3 years —- 7 mg/day

4 years – 8 years —-10 mg/day

9 years – 13 years —-8 mg/day

14 years – 18 year —Male 8 mg/day and Female 7.9 mg/day

19 years to 50 years —Male 8 mg/day and female 8.1 mg/day

50 + years —Male 8 mg/day and female 5 mg/day

Pregnancy —-27 mg/day

Lactation —-9 mg/day

Hemoglobin Count –

Low Hemoglobin count indicates anemia

Normal Values are

Male ———————————– 13.5 to 17.5g/dL

Females ——————————–12.0 to 15.5g/dL

Birth ————————————-13.5 -24g/dL

1month- 6 months———————–10 to 20g/dL

2months – 6 years ————————9.5 to 13.5g/dL

6 years – 12 years ————————-11.5 to 15.5g/dL

12 years -18 years ———————— Male – 12 to 16g/dL

Female – 13 -16g/dL

Food Sources –

Vegetarian sources – Raisins, beans, soybeans, dried beans and peas, kidney beans, almonds, broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, apples, cashew nuts, potato, lentils, dark chocolate, dandelion, wheat, millet, oats, brown rice.

Non-vegetarian sources – Seafood, Egg, Meat, oysters, liver

  • Consumption of Vitamin C, Vitamin A along with vegetarian sources of food can increase the absorption of iron in body.
  • Calcium can slow absorption of iron in body
  • Coffee, tea, wine, soda interferes with iron absorption and can cause iron loss.
  • Light regular physical exercise helps body in increasing the hemoglobin count.
  • Folic acid intake from foods like beetroot, green leafy vegetables, banana, broccoli helps in forming healthy cells (RBC).
  • Avoid inflammatory foods
  • Avoid stress, anxiety

High hemoglobin levels

Pseudo high hemoglobin levels are seen in –

  • Heavy smokers
  • Eating too many iron supplements
  • Burns
  • Dehydration
  • Living on high altitude
  • COPD
  • Failure of right side of heart
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Liver failure

Magnetic properties of brain

In 1992, scientists identified the presence of magnetite- a permanently magnetic form of iron oxide in human brain

Various studies have proved that brain cells respond to magnetic fields. Evidence exists of elevated levels of magnetite in brain tissue from Alzheimer disease patients.

Don’t worry about magnetizing in day to day life. In order to do the damage, you need to pull the magnetic pressure hard enough to break the cell membranes.

Scientists say sources of magnetic pollution includes car exhaust, cigarette ashes.

It is still unclear , why pattern of magnetism differs from person to person or why a specific form of pattern develops

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