Iron Facts - Signs Of Low Iron and Other Information

Why is iron important?

Iron is essential to life. It contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and also plays an important role in normal energy metabolism, oxygen transport, cognitive function, immune function and formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin.

Can I always get enough iron from my food?

You can get iron from food, but depending on the type, it may not be absorbed well and it may not be sufficient to meet your requirements. There are two types of iron found in the diet, non-heme and heme. Non-heme iron is found in plants, nuts and legumes. This is absorbed at a much lower rate than heme iron, which is found in animal products such as meat, especially red meat. Its important to remember that even if you are making a conscious effort to ingest more heme iron, by eating meat, other daily habits like drinking tea and coffee after your meals can reduce iron absorption and reduce your iron intake.

Who might need to supplement their diet with iron?

Monthly periods are the commonest cause of iron loss worldwide and research shows that women of childbearing age need 2-3 times more iron than men. Amongst women who experience heavier periods, especially in their 30’s and 40’s, adequate daily iron intake is particularly important and may be difficult to achieve with diet alone. Although a vegetarian diet will be high in iron rich foods, these plant-based (non-heme) sources of iron are poorly absorbed in the diet. This may be coupled with other potential absorption obstacles such as phytates in whole-grains and legumes or tannins in tea and coffee, which can bind iron and further reduce absorption. Iron is used by the body’s muscles to help produce energy and this explains why active exercisers, especially adults who enjoy endurance exercise (e.g. running, rowing, cycling) to maintain and support energy and normal immunity. The main adverse effect of blood donation is iron loss. Blood donation experts often recommend a course of at least 30mg of daily iron for up to 6 months post donation. This also helps with red-blood cell production and haemoglobin.

What iron supplement dose is needed in pregnancy?

Iron needs are increased during pregnancy because the body uses iron to make extra blood to transport oxygen for the mother and her baby during this time. The WHO recommends 30 mg of daily iron during pregnancy, especially the second and third trimesters. However, food supplements are not a substitute for a varied diet and a healthy lifestyle. Also, you should not exceed the recommended daily supplement dose of iron without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.

At risk groups:

  • Pregnant women
  • Adolescent girls (who have begun their periods)
  • Women with heavier or prolonged periods
  • Vegetarians and vegans
  • Active men and women
  • Blood donors

What to do if you are low in iron?

If you experience any of the symptoms of low iron, your first action is to talk to your Health Care Professional about what is the best course of action for you.

Let the results speak for themselves

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We are constantly talking to women about the impact of tiredness on their lives. We love hearing from women who have taken Active Iron, and the positive impact it has had on them.