Effects of Iron on the Body
Effects of Iron on the Body.
The main functions of iron on the human body include the metabolization of proteins and the production of hemoglobin, enzymes, and red blood cells (RBCs). Considering that we’re always on the go because our lives today are extremely busy, exhaustion and fatigue seem like every day problems which we often attribute to our hectic schedules. However, these can also be caused by a deficiency of iron. Iron is one of the key nutrients your body requires to perform its daily activities.
A lower RBC count can impair the transfer of oxygen to the various tissues and organs within the body. Iron is also essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Sources of Iron
Here are the top food sources you can obtain your daily dose of iron from:
Non-Heme (Plant) Sources: These sources of iron are absorbed less by the body and require Vitamin C to be absorbed in greater amounts.
· Pumpkin Seeds
· Leafy green vegetables
· Whole grains
· Dry fruits
· Dairy products
Heme (Animal) Sources: These are the best sources for increasing and maintaining good iron levels in your body.
· Chicken liver
· Beef liver
Below are the best known benefits of iron:
Aids Muscle Function
Iron is also extremely important for improved muscle health. It aids in the production of myoglobin (a muscle protein) that carries oxygen from hemoglobin and stores it in the muscle cells. It thereby helps in the contraction of muscles.
Helps in Brain Development
New mothers must make sure that their kids have a diet rich in iron to ensure healthy brain development. As per a study by the Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, the cognitive, motor, social-emotional, and neurophysiological development in infants suffering from iron deficiency anemia is lower than those who are not. The study thus emphasizes the importance of preventing iron deficiency for improved brain health.
Doctors recommend pregnant women to increase their intake of iron from food sources or supplements. A Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews study reports that the prenatal supplementation of iron helps lower the risk of low birth weight and prevents maternal anemia during pregnancy. Pregnant women should take 27 milligrams of iron a day. Iron supplements are best absorbed when supplemented with foods rich in vitamin C, such as orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice.
Fights Hair Loss
A study found that women can experience excessive hair loss due to iron deficiency. The study reported that low iron stores increase the rate of hair fall, especially in non-menopausal women. Iron also helps improve hair texture and reduces dullness by increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the hair roots and scalp.
Studies suggest that a high intake of iron can provide relief from premenstrual symptoms like dizziness, mood swings, hypertension, etc. As per research conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, women who enjoy an iron-rich diet have 30 to 40 per cent lower risk of experiencing PMS compared to women who consume less iron.
Iron also plays an important role in speeding up the process of wound healing. It helps in the formation of RBCs, the most essential constituent of hemoglobin that transports oxygen around the body. Without the proper supply of oxygen (that also carries other nutrients), wound healing cannot take place. You know what to do about treating those painful wounds the next time!
For those concerned parents whose kids are small eaters, iron supplementation may help increase your child’s appetite. A study by The Journal of Nutrition performed on Kenyan primary school children found that iron supplementation increased appetite and growth in children.
Iron acts as a carrier of oxygen in the body and transfers it to the muscles and the brain, thereby increasing both physical performance and mental alertness. Low levels of iron within the body can make you inattentive, irritable, and fatigued. As per a study conducted by the University of Melbourne, iron supplementation helps improve exercise performance in women.
Another wondrous health benefit of iron is its ability to bolster up immunity. According to Linus Pauling Institute, iron is highly useful for a number of immune functions such as the differentiation and proliferation of T lymphocytes and the production of reactive oxygen species that fight pathogens.