Where is iron present in the body and why is it necessary?
Iron is ubiquitous in the body.
This vital element exists most commonly as oxygen transport proteins in vertebrates. Forming hemoglobin, it gives blood its characteristic red color and helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the body organs. Traces of iron can also be found in the bone marrow, liver, spleen, and the muscles.
About two third of the body’s iron is found as hemoglobin.
The three main functions of iron are transport and storage of oxygen, energy production and cell diffusion, and supporting the immune system and the central nervous system. Low levels of iron, referred to as iron deficiency, can have disastrous effects, and lead to anemia.
Due to iron deficiency, blood carries low levels of oxygen, triggering negative symptoms such as fatigue, rapid heartbeat, weakness, fainting, swelling of the tongue, and susceptibility to infection.
Some of the reasons for iron deficiency are blood loss and poor diet. An important factor leading to iron deficiency is the body’s inability to absorb the iron in sufficient amount from the diet.
Iron can only be assimilated in the body through a diet rich in iron. When iron is consumed in balanced amounts, it gives rise to many advantages that extend to every dimension of health and living.
Benefits of iron in the diet include:
--Hemoglobin formation as well as muscle contraction.
--Brain activity, as the oxygen is carried to the brain by hemoglobin.
--Regulation of the body temperature and synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that play major roles in different activities of the human body.
--Eradication of fatigue and combating insomnia.
--Improved mental ability and enhanced concentration.
Both vegetarian and non vegitarian foods can be excellent sources of iron.
Among vegetables, legumes, lentils, soy beans, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, cereals, bread, spinach, turnip, sprouts, broccoli, and dry fruits have good iron content.
Non vegitarian sources of iron include dark poultry meat, white poultry meat, red meats, muscle, the heart, lungs, and bone marrows. These act as fantastic sources of dietary iron as they already contain traces of hemoglobin from which iron can be directly assimilated.
Iron tablets and supplements can also prove to be good and consistent sources of iron.
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