You would be surprised to learn iron is a key mineral to ensure your body functions at its best. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies worldwide, with women being more susceptible. Leaving iron deficiency unwatched may lead to anemia which can be life-threatening.
Consuming iron-rich food such as meat, enriched grains, berries, and legumes can help you get iron for your body. However, an iron-rich diet alone might not meet your body’s needs. There will be a time when you will need to get supplements to meet your body’s iron needs. You’ll learn the benefits of taking supplements and key points to note.
Iron’s Role in the Human Body
Iron is an important player in the human body as it is the nutrient that allows the transportation of oxygen in the body. This mineral is a key component of hemoglobin. It is the substance in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs and distributing it throughout your body. Hemoglobin represents the majority of your body’s iron, around two-thirds of it.
If you don’t have sufficient iron, your body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells. Fewer healthy red blood cells mean you’ll get less oxygen. You will experience fatigue and exhaustion faster than usual if the body receives less oxygen. It’s a domino effect that will weaken brain functions and even impede the capabilities of your immune system.
Outside of its role in transporting oxygen throughout the body, iron is also essential for maintaining certain body parts. Some parts that come to mind are the hair, nails, and skin. Vibrant hair, healthy skin, and nails with an even surface indicate that you have enough iron. Whereas pale skin, brittle hair, and nails that show spooning indicate that you don’t meet your iron needs.
The other effects of iron deficiency
Aside from fatigue, exhaustion, disorientation, dizziness, poor skin, hair, and nails, there are plenty more negative effects that you will face if you have iron deficiency. These are the following:
- Palpitations in the chest
- You can’t properly regulate your body temperature
- Increased susceptibility to diseases/illnesses
- Difficulty in focusing and concentrating
- Random itches and skin blemishes
- Aside from pale skin, your skin tone will become inconsistent
- Shortness in breathing
- Mouth sores
There are many more to list, but these effects usually appear once your iron deficiency worsens. If you don’t experience these, even though you lack iron, your iron deficiency is still in its earlier stages.
What are the benefits of taking supplements?
Now that you’re oriented on the role of iron in the human body and the effects if you have a deficit in it, it’s time to know the benefits of taking iron supplements.
- Lessened fatigue, higher energy
- Better cognition and focus
- Resilience against diseases
- Healthy skin, hair, and nails
In summary, assuming you are now meeting your body’s iron needs through supplements, you are less tired because your body produces enough healthy oxygen-carrying blood cells. Next, enough iron means your brain functions will operate at their best.
Meeting your daily needs means your immune system can function in peak conditions, making you less susceptible to diseases. Last but not least, having sufficient iron will make your skin rosy, your hair vibrant, and your nails sufficiently tough with consistent surfaces.
When to consider taking supplements?
Before taking iron supplements to meet your body’s iron needs, here are some key points to consider. Here are the following:
- You don’t meet your body’s iron intake through diet alone
- You have been diagnosed with Anemia or any condition that affects nutrient absorption
- You belong to a group that’s more susceptible to iron deficiency / or loses iron quickly
To emphasize the key points. The first one - sometimes the body can’t produce enough iron through just an iron-rich diet alone; supplements are used to augment that. Second, conditions such as anemia, celiac disease, and the like would require you to gain more iron than usual.
As for the third one, if you are pregnant, just came from surgery, are a blood donor, or engage in heavy exercise, you would need iron supplements to recover lost iron or be less susceptible to iron deficiency.
Please take note to check with your doctor first. Have a proper blood test to determine your body’s iron levels. That way, you can determine whether you need supplements to meet your body’s iron needs. Otherwise, if your tests say you are fine for now - you can stick to your current means of maintaining the body’s iron levels, such as a nutritious diet.
How Much Iron Can You Take?
When taken in excess, good things can become detrimental; iron supplements are one of those. In a typical scenario, an individual can take from 7 to 27 milligrams of iron daily. Note that this is not yet factoring in the age and gender of the individual; it could go lower or higher. The upper limit of your daily iron intake can be 40-45 milligrams daily.
However, if you are an individual currently undergoing specific treatment or medication, examples are people with anemia, blood loss, surgery, or nutrient-absorbing disorders. Your daily intake of iron can range between 50-100 milligrams daily. However, this intake is divided into multiple doses taken throughout the day. The number of doses depends on your doctor's prescription.
What happens if you have exceeded the body's required iron needs? You will end up getting affected by iron poisoning. Yes, iron is essential, but taking too much induces various symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal pain, liver damage, and in the worst cases, even death. If you’re suffering from Iron poisoning, it’s best to contact your doctor or a hospital as soon as possible.
Start Taking Iron Supplement Now!
Iron supplements are very beneficial to the body. They augment your current iron intake as sometimes a good diet alone may not be enough to meet the body’s iron dietary needs. In turn, meeting that amount of iron means your body will be in good working condition. You will be less tired, have a clear mind, be more disease-resistant and even look good!
However, as beneficial as it may be. You will still need to consult your doctor about iron supplements. This consultation is conducted to check if you are already meeting your daily iron dietary needs or need supplements to augment it. They’ll also determine how much iron you must take to avoid overdosing.