What Conditions Iron Helps

Thursday, 13 Jan 2011 02:45 PM

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A deficiency of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid can rapidly deplete red blood cell strength. Iron is a key element in the metabolism of almost all living organisms. It is important for several vital functions like growth, reproduction, healing, and a healthy immune system. Anemia is a common blood disorder caused by a deficiency of red blood cells (RBCs) and is characterized by lack of vitality, fatigue, rapid heart rate, palpitations, and rapid breathing upon exertion.
 
Although iron can normally be obtained from food, certain conditions increase the body's need for iron supplements. These are:
 
Pregnancy- The demand of iron in the body doubles during pregnancy. Pregnancy supplements include iron to compensate for the insufficiency. Typically, an average woman requires 15mg, but during pregnancy, the iron requirement increases to 30 to 50mg, especially during the second trimester and onwards. A number of iron and pregnancy supplements are available on the market, in different forms, providing different proportions of elemental iron.
 
People with GI disorders- Those who cannot absorb normal amounts of iron.
 
Renal failure- Many people with kidney disease will need iron supplementation. Anemia begins in the initial stages of kidney disease and can worsen as the disease progresses. Sometimes iron supplements don’t work as well and iron has to be given intravenously.
 
Bleeding problems- People who have severe or continuous bleeding can benefit from iron supplements. For instance, in women, iron is lost when bleeding happens during heavy menstrual periods or during childbirth. Women also lose iron due to fibroids in the uterus that bleed. Conditions with internal bleeding due to ulcers, colon complications, urinary tract bleeding, and hemodialysis also need iron supplementation.  
 
Premature infants and children- Breastfed infants, toddlers, and children undergoing growth spurts will also need iron supplements. It was discovered in a survey that by the age of 18 years, around 7 percent of children in the United States experience anemia at least once.
 
Treating anemia
Though anemia can be treated with iron supplements, it is imperative to get a diagnosis from a health care provider before attempting to treat the condition. A good balanced diet containing a variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and non-fat milk will go a long way towards ensuring anemia doesn’t occur. In most cases, anemia will be treated with iron supplements or vitamin B12/vitamin B9 supplements or folic acid. In very chronic anemia cases, these vitamins may be injected along with blood fusions or oxygen fusions. Intake of foods high in vitamin C in combination with foods high in iron will also help in the absorption of iron. However, the best treatment for anemia is prevention.

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