Iron, a trace mineral, supplies energy to every cell in the body. It is a key component of hemoglobin, the blood’s oxygen-carrying substance. Iron is also found in myoglobin, which supplies oxygen to muscles, and in compounds that keep the immune system strong. This mineral is critical to sharp mental functioning. Slight deficiencies in iron can shorten attention span and make concentration difficult. Normally, the body gets sufficient amounts of iron from the foods you eat. It manages to self-regulate, storing more iron when the need is high, and less when levels are adequate.
A chronically iron-poor diet or any condition characterized by prolonged bleeding (even of small amounts), such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, rectal polyps, and heavy menstrual flow, can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. If iron-deficiency anemia develops, the body has to struggle to absorb sufficient amounts of oxygen. This is the most common type of anemia. Thankfully, it is relatively easy to treat.
Iron supplements should be taken with meals to minimize the chance of stomach upset. To boost the amount of iron your body absorbs, take the supplement with small amounts of meat or with foods and drinks rich in Vitamin C.
Soy protein isolate can reduce iron absorption.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.