Iron Benefits

mineral iron

Iron mineral is the part of structure of many important body constituents e.g. hemoglobin, myoglobin, enzymes like cytochromes, catalses, xanthine oxidase, mitochondrial glycerophosphate oxidase etc. The iron content of hemoglobin is 0.34%. The adult human being contain about 2-4gtam of iron of which 60-70% is present in the blood as circulating iron and the rest as storage iron. Recommended daily intake of iron in adults in 0.9 mg

There are two forms of irons

  • Heme iron
  • Non heme iron


  • Animal sources:  Animal sources of food rich in heme iron are liver, red meat, poultry and egg yolk. Milk is very low in iron. These are not only rich sources of iron but also readily increase non heme iron absorption in plant foods eaten at the same time.
  • Plant sources: Foods containing non heme iron are of plant origin and are rich in vegetables and include spinach and leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, oilseeds, and jaggery. Dried fruits also contain appreciable amounts of iron.

Cooking in iron utensils increases the iron content of foods. Food which decreases iron absorptions are milk, eggs and tea.


Iron is necessary for many functions in the body including formation of hemoglobin, brain development and function regulation of body temperature, muscle activity and catecholamine metabolism. It is important for our immune system also. Lack of it directly affects the immune system; it diminished the number of T-cells and the production of antibodies. Beside hemoglobin, iron is component of myoglobin, the cytochromes, catalse and certain other enzyme systems. Iron is essential for binding oxygen to the blood cells. The central function of iron is oxygen transport and cell respiration.


The total daily iron loss of an adult is probably 1mg and about 2 mg in menstruating women. Major routes of iron loss are

Hemorrhage:  The cause of which may be psychological or pathological.                

Basal Losses:  These include excretion through urine, sweat, bile and desquamated surface cells. The recent use of intra uterine device is also an additional cause of iron loss.


There are three stages of iron deficiency which has been categorized.

  • First stage characterized by decreased storage of iron without any other detectable abnormalities
  • An intermediate stage of latent iron deficiency which means iron stores are exhausted but anemia has not occurred as yet.
  • The third stage is overt iron deficiency when there is a decrease in the concentration of circulating hemoglobin due to impaired hemoglobin synthesis

Deficiency Anemia

This is of hypochromic, microcytic type and is the most common type of anemia being especially present in women of child bearing age and infants below 1 year of age.

Characteristic Features

  • These include derangement of epithelial surface such as abnormal nails growth that become spoon shaped, other include glossitis, fissures around mouth, pale skin, weakness and fatigue. Thickening of mucous lining of esophagus also occurs with resultant effect of difficulty in eating and swallowing.
  • Besides anemia, there may arise many other functional disturbances due to iron deficiency and these are: Impaired cell mediated immunity; Reduced resistance to infection ; Increase morbidity and mortality; Diminished work performance.


Increase in iron levels in the body results in a condition called hemosiderosis and it is seen in some people who eat food cooked in iron utensils.

Related posts:

Potassium Benefits
Like other minerals such as sodium, potassium is a positively charged ion of immense importance in the body. In contrast to sodium, potassium is the...
Selenium Benefits
Selenium is the trace and essential mineral of the body. It is required in the body in small amount but perform functions bigger than its amount. ...
Sodium Benefits
People have held salt in high regard throughout the recorded history. The sodium mineral is found in all body fluids. The adult human body contains ...
Sulfur Benefits
Sulphur mineral is present in all the cells of the body as a constituent of S-containing amino acids. Keratin is very rich in the S- containing amin...
Fluorine Benefits
Fluorine mineral is the most abundant element in nature being so highly reactive. It is never found in its elemental gaseous forms but only in combi...
Calcium Benefits
Calcium is a major mineral element of the body. It constitutes 1.5-2% of the body weight of an adult human. At average adult body contains about 120...