We all know that iron is an essential mineral required for the production of haemoglobin and it has a role in a variety of other important processes in the body.
But, what happens if a person isn't getting enough amount of iron? Inadequate iron intake leads to iron deficiency anaemia, a condition where the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells.
From preventing anaemia to improving energy and focus, this mineral has plenty of benefits to offer. Continue reading to know the health benefits of iron.
Health Benefits Of Iron
1. Prevents anaemia
A human body needs iron to increase the production of haemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen in the blood.
Iron is helpful in treating and preventing anaemia, which is caused as a result of low haemoglobin levels-causing symptoms like fatigue, low mood, breathlessness and heart palpitations .
2. Boosts immunity
Iron plays a vital role in boosting the immune system. It works by increasing haemoglobin levels to the damaged cells, tissues and organs, thereby increasing the healing process. A strong immune system helps fight infections and prevent diseases .
3. Improves focus and concentration
Another reason for including iron in your diet is its ability to enhance focus and concentration and boost cognitive performance. Low levels of iron in the body affect your cognitive function largely, causing a low attention span and memory .
4. Increases energy
Insufficient iron intake causes fatigue that interferes with a person's daily activity. So, the more iron your body has the more energetic you feel-because iron carries oxygen to the muscles and brain-which is crucial for both physical and mental performance .
5. Promotes healthy pregnancy
During pregnancy, the volume of blood and red blood cell production increases at a much faster rate to supply the growing foetus with oxygen and nutrients. However, if the level of iron is low during pregnancy it elevates the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and impaired behavioural and cognitive function in infants .
6. Enhances muscle strength
Adequate amount of iron provides the muscles of the body with necessary amount of oxygen for muscle strength and elasticity. This is beneficial for endurance in athletes and helps increase their athletic performance. Low iron levels cause muscle weakness.
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7. Encourages better sleep
A research study found that very low iron levels can lead to poor quality of sleep, causing sleep problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea .
Daily Recommended Intake Of Iron
- 0 to 6 months - 0.27 mg
- 7 to 12 months - 11 mg
- For children:
- 1 to 3 years - 7 mg
- 4 to 8 years - 10 mg
- 9 to 13 years - 8 mg
- 14 to 18 years - 11 mg
- 19 years and older - 8 mg
- 9 to 13 years - 8 mg
- 14 to 18 years - 15 mg
- 19 to 50 years - 18 mg
- 51 years and older - 8 mg
- Pregnancy period - 27 mg
- Lactation period - 10 mg
Risks Of Excess Iron Consumption
The best way to get sufficient amount of iron is through diet and oral iron supplements. Overdose of iron in the form of supplements can cause side effects like stomach upset, organ failure, internal bleeding, seizure and even death.
The recommended dosage of iron supplements for adults are 60 to 120 mg per day.