Iron is an essential nutrient that is vital to the process by which cells generate energy. Iron is a trace mineral needed to make hemoglobin, the protein needed to carry oxygen through your body. Hemoglobin gives red blood cells their color, and stores most of the body's iron supply. Iron is also stored in muscle tissue, and helps supply the muscles with the oxygen needed to make them contract.
Although iron is a trace mineral, it is extremely important, because a deficiency in this nutrient leads to shortage of red blood cells that can cause a host of problems. Typically these signs manifest as: being tired; pale, short of breath, restless legs, itchy skin, hair loss, ringing of ears, weakness, and sometimes a fast heart beat, coldness in your hands and feet, headaches and dizziness. It is important to note that iron deficiency is not the same as anemia. People may be iron deficient without being anemic. The term iron deficiency refers to depleted body iron stores without regard to the degree of depletion or to the presence of anemia. The term anemia refers to the severe depletion of iron stores that results in low hemoglobin concentration.
Most of the body's iron is found in two proteins; hemoglobin in the red blood cells and myoglobin in the muscle cells. In both, iron helps accept, carry and release oxygen. Iron is also found in many enzymes that oxidize compound reactions so widespread in metabolism that hey occur in all cells. Enzymes involved in the making of amino acids, hormones and neurotransmitters require iron. Do you see how important iron is?
Absorption and Metabolism
The body conserves iron zealously and has devised many special provisions for handling it. The total quantity of iron in the adult body is quite small, only 4 grams, about the amount found in a 3 -inch nail. In a typical adult, 2.72 grams are in red blood cells, 0.12 grams are in myoglobin, 1 gram is stored in the liver and spleen, 0.003 grams is found in transferrin, and only 0.0035 grams are in cytochromes.
Let’s quickly examine iron routes and storage centers in the body to further understand its absorption and metabolism. Iron in food reaches the intestinal cells during digestion where some is stored in intestinal cells in ferritin. Some iron is lost during the shedding of intestinal cells. If the body needs iron, it is packaged into transferrin, a transport protein, and carried in the blood. From here, some iron is delivered to the myoglobin of muscle cells and bone marrow which then incorporates iron into hemoglobin of red blood cells, of which excess is stored in ferritin and hemosiderin. Iron containing hemoglobin in red blood cells carries oxygen. The liver and spleen dismantles red blood cells and packages iron into transferrin, and the cycle begins again. Some losses of iron occur via sweat, skin, bleeding, urine and the shedding intestinal cells.
Two Types of Iron Source
How much iron is absorbed depends in part on its source. Iron occurs in two forms in foods, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found only in foods derived from the flesh of animals, such as meats, poultry and fish. Non-heme iron is found in both plant and animal foods. Heme iron is so well absorbed that it contributes significant iron to the body. It is absorbed at a relatively constant rate of about 23 percent. The rates of absorption of non-heme iron are lower, ranging from 2 percent to 20 percent, and are strongly influenced by dietary factors and body iron stores. People with severe iron deficiencies absorb heme and non-heme iron more efficiently and are more sensitive to dietary enhancing factors than people with better iron status.
Absorption Enhancing Factors: MFP and Vitamin C
Meat, fish and poultry contain not only the highly bioavailable heme iron, but also MFP factor that promotes the absorption of non-heme iron from other foods eaten with them. Vitamin C, which also enhances non-heme iron absorption from foods eaten in the same meal, is the most potent promoter of non-heme iron absorption. Vitamin C increases iron absorption by a factor of four. Vitamin C captures iron and keeps it in the ferrous form, ready for absorption. The amino acid cysteine is also thought to play a role in maintaining the ferrous form of iron. Other factors that enhance non-heme iron absorption include citric acid and lactic acid from foods, as well as HCl from the stomach.
Some dietary factors bind with non-heme iron, inhibiting absorption. These include the phytates and fibers in whole grain cereals and nuts, the calcium and phosphorus in milk and supplements, the Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA) in food additives (Mayonnaise is one of the most common foods in which you will find EDTA. EDTA is also used to protect color in some cheap soft drinks. In foods, EDTA will often be present in the form of calcium EDTA, or calcium disodium EDTA—so look for that on your ingredient label), and tannic acid. Tannic acid is present in tea, coffee, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables. Recent studies reveal that soy may inhibit iron absorption.
Heavy Metal Toxicity and Iron Deficiency
Heavy metal toxicity can cause an iron deficiency. Why? Because iron absorption occurs primarily in the duodenum and jejunum. Lead is particularly damaging element to iron metabolism, as it is taken up by the iron absorption machinery and secondarily it blocks iron through competitive obstruction. And it interferes with a number of important iron dependent metabolic steps such as heme biosynthesis. Human exposure to lead occurs primarily through diet, air, drinking water. for centuries, lead plumbing has helped in the contamination of drinking water and contributed to elevated blood lead concentrations in children who are now adults.
Other Factors and Iron Deficiency
Some types of iron deficiency may have to do with a reduced capacity to convert stored ferric iron (ferritin) to the ferrous form, which may indicate a need for vitamin B12 and B6, folic acid, copper and molybdenum.
Our non-invasive Quantum Bio Resonance Analysis can detect the root cause of iron deficiency as well as identify harmful toxic metals that may be present in your system. Our customized nutrition plan is designed to first gently cleanse your body while restoring essential vitamin and minerals level to help you reach optimal health.
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