Essential Nutrients

Why is Iron Important

Iron is an essential mineral for health. It is vital for proper growth and healthy development of the body. If you are feeling run down, tired and lethargic then iron deficiency could be the reason.

Iron has many functions it performs in our body including maintaining healthy cells, hair, nails and skin. Iron is an important component of a variety of proteins and is a vital element in specific enzymatic reactions. Below are some of the main roles iron plays within our body.

Iron and Haemoglobin Formation

Haemoglobin is the main carrier of oxygen transporting it from the lungs around to all the tissues of our body. It is responsible for the dark red colour our blood possesses. Iron is needed for the formation of haemoglobin. Approximately two thirds of the total iron within our body is found in our haemoglobin.

Iron the Oxygen Carrier

Every cell of every organ in our body cannot survive without oxygen and it is of vital importance that no cell is starved of one of the most important elements of life. Haemoglobin is found in our red blood cells. Oxygen is carried round the body via haemoglobin and iron is a vital component that is required for the formation of haemoglobin, making it and essential mineral to ensure oxygen is carried to every part of the body. A lack of iron means a lack of ability to produce adequate red oxygen carrying blood cells and a lack of red blood cells leads to a condition called anaemia. The lack of oxygen that results from poorly oxygenated red blood cells can lead to fatigue. Major fatigue can affect many things from brain function to the ability of your immune system to do its job fighting off infections. For pregnant women, a deficiency in iron can have implications on the baby’s health from being born prematurely or smaller than normal.

Iron and Muscle Function

Muscle health is dependent on iron. Iron is present in the muscle protein myoglobin. Myoglobin will carry oxygen from haemoglobin and then diffuse it throughout the cells of our muscles. Muscle contractions cannot occur in the absence of this process.

Iron and the Brain

Due to the fact iron is essential for the transportation of oxygen it goes without saying that iron is critical for proper brain health as our brain uses around 20% of the bodies demands of the oxygen in our bloodstream.

Iron and anaemia

A common condition of iron deficiency is anaemia. This condition occurs when the bodies iron levels reach a severely depleted state. This condition can lead to symptoms like general fatigue, headaches, feelings of weakness and lethargy and temperature sensitivity to name but a few.