February 08, 2014


Functions of Iron
  • Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen to all parts of the body. 
  • Iron also is involved in producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the body's energy source).
  • Iron is an integral part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health.
  • It is also essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. 
Rich Sources 

  • Dried Parsley (11% DV per tblsp), Dried Spearmint (10% DV per tblsp), Black Pepper, dried 
  • Marjoram, Cumin Seed, dried Oregano, Bay Leaf, dried Coriander, dried Basil, ground Tumeric, ground Savory, Anise Seed, Fenugreek Seed, dried Terragon, dried Chervil, and dried Rosemary (5% DV per tblsp)
  • Cocoa Powder and Chocolate
  • Roasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
  • Sesame Butter (Tahini) and Seeds
  • Caviar
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Dried Apricots
Non-Heme sources
  • Soybeans (Edamame)
  • Lentils
  • Kidney Beans, Lima Beans, Navy beans, Pinto Beans
  • Molasses
  • Spinach (Cooked)
  • Raisins (Seedless)
Heme sources
Shrimp, White Tuna (Canned), Tuna (Bluefin), Chicken Leg (Roasted), Turkey Meat (Dark)

Recommended Daily Intakes 
  • Male 19 - 50 years: 8 mg daily
  • Female adults 19 - 50 years: 18 mg daily
  • Adults 51 years and older: 8 mg daily
  • Pregnant females ages 14 - 50 years: 27 mg daily
  • Nursing females ages 14 - 18 years: 10 mg daily
  • Nursing females ages 19 - 50 years: 9 mg daily
Deficiency Disease
A slight deficiency in iron causes anemia (fatigue/weakness) and a chronic deficiency can lead to organ failure.

  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Lack of stamina and decreased activity performance
  • Growth problems during childhood
  • Decreased immune function
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty in maintaining body temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Deafness
Prone to Deficiency 
  • Pregnant women 
  • Preterm and low birth weight infants 
  • Older infants and toddlers
  • Teenage girls 
  • Women of childbearing age especially those with heavy menstrual losses
  • People with renal failure especially those undergoing routine dialysis
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders who do not absorb iron normally
Overdose Disease
Too much iron leads to production of harmful free radicals, and interferes with metabolism, causing damage to organs like the heart and liver. Hemochromatosis, also known as iron overload in the body is the abnormal accumulation of iron in parenchymal organs, leading to organ toxicity.

Factors which Affect Iron Absorption and Retention
The most important factor is your existing iron level. A low iron level will increase absorption, while a high iron level will decrease absorption. In general, you absorb 10-15% of the iron from foods. While iron is better absorbed from heme (meat) sources, non-heme (plant) iron is better regulated causing less damage to the body. 

Enhancing Absorption
  • Meat proteins will increase the absorption of nonheme iron.
  • Vitamin C will increase the absorption of nonheme iron by as much as 85%.
Inhibiting Absorption
  • Tannins, oxalates, polyphenols, and phytates found in tea and coffee can reduce the absorption of non-heme iron by up to 65%. Black tea reduces absorption more than green tea and coffee.
  • The following teas and beverages also inhibit iron absorption: Peppermint tea, penny royal, cocoa, vervain, lime flower, chamomile, and most other herbal teas with polyphenols.
  • Calcium, polyphenols, and phytates found in legumes, whole grains, and chocolate can reduce absorption of nonheme iron.
  • Some protein from soy products may inhibit nonheme iron absorption.
  • Calcium, milk, and antacids can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.
  • High fiber foods, such as whole grains, raw vegetables, and bran can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.
  • Foods or drinks with caffeine can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.

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