What is Iron and Why is it Important?
Iron is a type of mineral that is found in soil, rocks, plants, and even water. Your body does not produce iron naturally and must obtain it from outside sources. Your body needs iron in order to support the healthy production of red blood cells, or hemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout your body. When you have low blood iron, your body cannot get enough oxygen to function normally, which in turn can lead to several possible symptoms.
Symptoms of low blood iron include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- A persistent feeling of being cold, especially in your hands and feet
- A sore or swollen tongue
- Sores at the corners of your mouth
A blood test is the only way to be certain if you have an iron deficiency. You may want to consult with your doctor if you notice these symptoms. Left untreated, an iron deficiency can lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
How Much Iron do I Need?
How much iron you need on a daily basis will vary from person to person, and even for a single person over the course of a lifetime.
Factors that influence how much iron you need include:
- Your age
- Your gender (women need more iron than men)
- How active you are
- If you are recovering from an illness or surgery
- If you have a condition that impacts how well you can absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- If you take too many antacids (which contain calcium, a mineral that can inhibit iron absorption)
If you are undergoing kidney dialysis
Here are the current recommended daily iron intake guidelines, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
- Children 1-3: 7 mg
- Children 4-8: 10 mg
- Children 9-13: 8 mg
- Males/14-18: 11 mg
- Females/14-18: 15 mg
- Males/19+: 8 mg
- Females/19-50: 18 mg
- Females/51+: 8 mg
Most people are able to get enough iron from eating a healthy and balanced diet. For growing teens and women of childbearing age, increasing your iron intake can help prevent an iron deficiency.
How to Increase Your Iron Intake
The two most common ways to increase your iron intake is through iron supplements or food sources. It’s important to note that there are two types of iron – heme and non-heme. Heme types of iron come from animal products while non-heme iron comes from plants. Meat contains both types of iron.
Your body absorbs heme iron best and can better absorb non-heme sources when paired with meat. Vitamin C can also help improve absorption of non-heme sources of iron due to the compound that is formed between ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and non-heme iron. Vitamin C is easily found in many kinds of citrus fruits. You can maximize your iron intake by choosing a diet that includes fruit, vegetable, grain, and meat (as applicable) sources of this mineral.
Additionally, certain substances can inhibit how much iron you can absorb, including the tannins from tea in vegetable-based diets, coffee, and calcium. Consider avoiding these iron absorption inhibitors during your meal.
Iron can be found in a wide variety of food items, including:
- Fortified grains and cereals
- Oysters, clams, and mussels
- Legumes (eg., beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas)
- Dried fruit
Some people cannot correct an iron deficiency with supplementation or changes to their diets due to an existing health condition or other causes. In these cases, an iron IV infusion can be beneficial.
At-Home Iron IV Infusions with MedicoRX
At-Home Iron IV infusions ensure full absorption of iron to quickly and effectively address your deficiency of this essential mineral. Since IV infusions are administered into your bloodstream and bypass your digestive system, you can also avoid the potential side effects of oral iron supplements such as stomach upset, diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.
MedicoRX delivers IV iron infusions directly to you. Your entire appointment can take place in the privacy of your home for a comfortable, convenient experience.