Iron: what does it do and why is it important?

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Iron

Iron plays a very important role in the body. It is responsible for carrying oxygen to all bodily tissues. It does so through 3 channels: hemoglobin, myoglobin, and cytochromes. Iron forms heme in hemoglobin, which transfers oxygen to the blood. It also forms the heme in myoglobin which stores oxygen in muscle tissues. Iron is the #1 nutrient deficiency in the world.

[tweetthis]Iron is the #1 nutrient deficiency in the world.[/tweetthis]

Without sufficient iron, you may experience fatigue, poor concentration, hair loss, and more. This is often due to the imbalance of other hormones caused by a lack of iron. Deficiency can be caused by several different factors. A lack of iron in the diet, excessive bleeding, consumption of foods that may inhibit absorption, and/or malabsorption are some of the common causes. Malabsorption can be caused by gastritis or achlorhydria (low or absent levels hydrochloric acid in the stomach).

Iron-rich foods

  • Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
  • Pumpkin seeds (try this Trail Mix Granola recipe)
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Cooked spinach
  • Sesame seeds

References

Gaby, A. (2011). Nutritional Medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.

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