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Want to know about Iron Supplements?
About Iron and why is it necessary?
Iron is a vital part of dietary supplements involved in the formation of hemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues in human body. It helps prevent anaemia which is usually caused due to poor hemoglobin levels in the blood. Iron deficiency is the most common form of nutritional deficiency especially in children and women during their reproductive years. Iron is needed to maintain normal blood circulation in our body. Iron is an integral part of many enzymes and is used by the body cells for many functions. Iron helps to develop and strengthen the immune system and aids in the production of a protein called collagen that helps build connective tissues in our body.
For example, enzymes aid in food digestion and other metabolic reactions that occur in our body. Too little iron in the human body can affect the production of enzymes that aid in vital functions.
Why is iron deficiency a major concern?
The term Anaemia is often associated with Iron deficiency or poor iron concentrations in the hemoglobin. Many health impairments can occur due to lack of sufficient iron in the blood.
• Iron deficiency anaemia can increase the risk for preterm babies which are likely to develop health disorders during their first year of life.
• Iron deficiency is a major concern because it can affect fine and gross motor skills in infants.
• Though not known by many people, Iron deficiency is the main reason for fatigue in many adults.
• Iron deficiency can even cause several mental disorders in especially teens.
Who needs Iron supplements?
The amount of Iron intake widely varies with age. Different age groups need different amounts of iron intake.
Increased Iron needs due to fast growth rates, infants and toddlers require more iron intake than teens. Women during their child bearing years require more Iron and must take iron supplements as recommended by medical practitioners. Blood loss can also lead to decreased levels of iron in the body.
Iron deficiency can also occur due to Decreased Iron consumption or absorption. Human body can absorb iron from a wide variety of iron rich foods. The absorption of iron depends on several factors such as source of iron, type of iron (i.e., haem iron or non haem iron). Vegetarian diets contain very low amounts of haem iron. In these circumstances taking iron is a smart choice in addressing the iron needs.
How to address Iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency can be treated in three different ways: orally, intravenously or intramuscularly. It is important to contact a doctor or a primary healthcare provider to get iron deficiency diagnosed. Sometimes iron deficiency can occur for causes that are not related to diet. In such case a healthcare provider may recommend iron supplement to improve the iron levels in the body. There are a wide range of oral dosage forms available such as tablet, liquid solution and vegecaps. These Orally administered Iron supplements are developed to address several iron deficiency problems including but not limited to neural tube defects, reduce visual fatigue and eye-strain, muscular cramps and spasms, management of heavy menstrual periods in women etc. The oral forms of iron are also fortified with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and other vitamins to aid better absorption rate.
The most common pharmacological form of Iron used in Oral dosage is iron sulfate often complexed with gluconate (ferrous gluconate), dextran, carbonyl iron and ferrous fumarate.
Other forms of dietary iron supplements include
• Breakfast cereals fortified with iron.
• Addition of Vitamin- C rich food to meals such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, juice, citrus fruits and capsicum help absorb iron.
• Cutting down on excessive intake of tea or coffee with meals.
• Vegetarians have a tendency to develop iron deficiency due to consumption of low iron. A planned vegetarian meal with iron rich food such as greens, spinach and legumes enhance the absorption of iron.
• Shellfish, canned fish and poultry form an excellent source of Iron
It is highly difficult to maintain normal iron levels solely with iron-rich diet. Iron supplementation as under supervision of a healthcare practitioner can improve the conditions of iron deficiency anaemia. Iron content from diet with non-haem iron such as plant sources, vegetables and nuts is said to be much lower than haem rich foods. Iron deficiency can be treated by eating a combination of haem iron and non haem iron. Certain foods such as bran and wheat germ act as inhibitors of iron and should strictly be avoided.
Are you getting enough?
Recommended Dietary Intake
Age Male Female
9-13 years 8 mg/day 8mg/day
Adults (19-50) 11 mg/day 15mg/day
Adult(51+ years) 8mg/day 8 mg/day
Pregnant women need 27mg/day
Source: NHMRC NR Values for Australia and New Zealand for the year 2006
How is Iron deficiency problem detected?
Iron loss from the body is a slow and continuous process that ultimately leads to iron deficiency anaemia if not treated. Iron deficiency anaemia is a medical condition in which the haemoglobin production drastically comes down leading to severe symptoms such as breathlessness, weakness, and fatigue. These symptoms are often mistaken as a result of work load, travel sickness and physical strain.
Regular monitoring of blood levels and proper diet and supplements are needed to keep track of iron status. When monitoring iron levels a number of factors are taken into consideration. Iron depletion rate is much faster in athletes and those who are associated with sports. If Iron deficiency is not treated in time it can quickly develop into anaemia and may require a long time monitoring to bring the iron level back to normal.
What is Haemochromatosis?
In certain individuals, Iron may tend to accumulate in blood cells and tissues leading to severe medical condition known as Haemochromatosis. Individuals with Haemochromatosis condition should avoid taking additional iron.
Iron deficiency must be clinically diagnosed. Hence iron supplementation should always be taken under the supervision of a licensed healthcare provider or a medical practitioner.
Popular Iron Supplements
Choose the one that fits your needs
Iron Plus (Tablets) By Nature’s Own,
Organic Iron Plus by Blooms (available in 300ml and 500ml),
Iron Active (300ml) by Herbs of gold,
Floravital (250ml and 500ml) by Salus-Haus,
Floradix formula (250 ml) by Salus-Haus,
Iron Max: Maximum strength 24mg (Vegecaps) by Herbs of gold,
Maxi Iron (Tablets) by Nature’s Own
Organic Iron 24mg by Thompson’s
Iron Plus by Microgenics
Clements Iron (500ml) by Extalife
Iron Plus (Tablets) by Ethical Nutrients.
Fab Iron Plus B complex (Tablets) by Fabhealth.