Parameter Tuesday: IRON
Iron is an essential element in your body, and it plays a vital role in your blood production. Around 70% of iron is found in your red blood cells, where it is a critical part of a protein called hemoglobin which is responsible for transferring oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the tissues.
The body itself can't produce iron. Therefore, all iron needed is usually absorbed from food in the small intestine. There it binds to a transport protein called transferrin and is then transported through the body. When it comes to iron absorption, eating foods high in iron is important, but we shouldn't forget foods rich in vitamin C since this helps your body to better absorb iron.
Iron deficiency happens when the stores of iron in your body are too low. It can be caused by excessive blood loss, poor diet, increased requirement, or inadequate absorption. Iron deficiency is more likely to be present in women because of periods or pregnancy.
When the body absorbs more iron than needed, it reaches a state of iron overload, which can be toxic for your body. Excess iron is then deposited in your body and can damage especially your liver, pancreas, and heart. Iron overload can occur if you ingest excessive amounts of iron. This usually happens if you ingest high doses of iron supplements. Iron overload can also arise from transfusions, hemolysis, or hereditary hemochromatosis.