While minerals such as magnesium, copper, and zinc are all important to maintain a healthy diet, iron is one of the most vital. Why? Because of the number of body functions that iron helps to operate.
- Transferring oxygen from the lungs to tissue
- Supporting muscle metabolism
- Strengthening healthy connective tissue
- Maintaining physical growth
- Aiding in neurological development
- Synthesizing hormones
- Helping cells to function
A lack of adequate blood iron levels can lead to iron deficiency anemia (IDA), shortness of breath, and fatigue. If untreated, it may lead to future health problems such as an enlarged heart or heart failure.
Iron Intake: Facts
However, this is easily treatable.
One way to do so is by consuming more iron-rich foods. The richest sources of iron (known as heme iron due to their quick absorption rate) are meat, poultry, and seafood while fortified grains, vegetables, nuts, and beans contain fewer amounts of iron (known as nonheme iron because of their slower absorption rate).
Another way to treat this is by meeting with a doctor to test your blood iron levels. If the doctor informs you that you have an iron deficiency, you may be instructed to add an iron supplement to your diet, such as Agape’s Integrative Therapeutics Iron Complex Softgels provide 50mg to support energy production. To make absorption easier, this supplement contains vitamin C to calm the stomach, as many people experience nausea when they ingest iron supplements.
Always consult a doctor before adding an iron supplement to your diet to make sure that you are staying within the health norms (shown below). Accidental overdosing is the leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under the age of 6. Excessive iron intake in adults can lead to constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting while severe overdoses can lead to organ failure.
Since iron is an oxidant, too much is harmful. Dr. Smith states,
“Most of the multiple vitamins I recommend are without iron. So when selecting a multiple one of the options is to choose a multiple with or without iron depending on your situation. Low iron is typically a problem for women… The goal is to maintain enough iron, but not too much. The point being is that iron levels should be monitored.
1. know your iron level
2. keep your iron levels low, but adequate.
Recommended Daily Allowances of Iron (milligrams per day)
|14–18 years||11 mg||15 mg||27 mg||10 mg|
|19–50 years||8 mg||18 mg||27 mg||9 mg|
|51+ years||8 mg||8 mg|
Blood Iron Level and Lifespan
Iron plays a vital role in the body’s red blood cell health, so it’s no surprise that iron levels may have an influence on your lifespan. Scientists have broken down the 3 key measures of aging:
- Health span – years lived without disease
- Longevity – persisting to an old age
The way the body metabolizes iron may be vital to how long the body continues to stay healthy and alive. Keeping blood iron levels in check could potentially prevent age-related damage such as Parkinson’s and liver disease.
While aging is something that many may dread, there are ways you can improve your overall health now to keep your body healthy and strong in the future. One of these ways is by monitoring your blood iron levels. Eating iron-rich foods as needed and taking supplements as instructed by doctors will allow you to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will set you up for a better quality of life.