Do you know everything you could about iron?
Iron is a mineral that is widely available in foods, it can be found in meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, whole grains and vegetables. The human body absorbs iron in animal products faster than iron in plant products. However, if animal sources of iron are consumed at the same time as plant sources, the absorption from those plant sources greatly increases. Iron is an essential part of haemoglobin; the red colouring agent of the blood that transports oxygen through our bodies. Furthermore, iron is an essential mineral used in many biochemical reactions in our body and is widely distributed in many tissues, not only the blood.
An excess of iron in the body may lead to aggressive behaviour, migraines, high blood pressure, joint pain and cirrhosis. Absorption of iron can be increased by alcohol. Increased iron stores can also result during times of severe bacterial infection and inflammation.
A more common problem is iron deficiency, which leads to anaemia. Other common deficiency signs and symptoms are shortened attention span, pica, dysphagia, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, poor sleep and susceptibility to infections. Dairy products can reduce iron absorption as can tea consumption. As vitamin D improves calcium absorption it is important that both are taken away from iron so as to not block iron absorption.
An acidic environment in the stomach is essential for proper iron utilisation, otherwise intestinal absorption is compromised. Minerals such as sodium and potassium may improve iron absorption in the body as will vitamin C and B group vitamins. Toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium will compete with iron absorption so it is essential to ensure that these metals are reduced or non-existent for effective iron metabolism.
Medications and drugs affecting iron absorption or metabolism include antacids, aspirin, indomethacin, methyldopa, neomycin, tetracycline, penicillamine as well as excess intake of some minerals – another reason not to self-prescribe supplements.
An excellent method of assessing iron levels as well as heavy metal toxicity is Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. Quick, easy and non-invasive, this test gives accurate results. Call 07 5530 1863 today to arrange your personalised health assessment.