The number one nutritional deficiency worldwide is iron deficiency, which is prevalent in approximately 80 percent of people, according to the National Institutes of Health. Some people use iron supplements to increase their intake of iron, although this could be dangerous if you consume too much iron, as high doses are poisonous and potentially fatal. In fact, most poison-related deaths in children occur from excessive iron intake. Consult a doctor for proper dosing.
Iron is necessary for forming the myoglobin in your muscle cells and the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. You need this hemoglobin for carrying oxygen to where it is needed in your body and removing carbon dioxide that isn't needed. Iron also plays a roll in the formation of cells and the regulation of cell growth.
Meeting Recommended Intake
Good food sources of iron include chicken, pork, ham, fish, beans, beef and liver. Iron supplements may help people whose diets lack a variety of iron-rich foods and for those who require more iron due to age and gender. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 need 18 milligrams daily, which increases to 27 milligrams during pregnancy. Women over 50 need a mere 8 mg daily of iron. People who have stomach problems and bleeding disorders are more likely to become deficient in iron, as are teenage girls, pregnant women, vegetarians and people undergoing dialysis treatments. Women who experience heavy menstrual periods sometimes use iron vitamins to prevent the iron deficiencies that may occur with substantial blood loss.
Treating Iron Deficiency
Once you are deficient in iron, it can be hard to replenish your iron stores and stop deficiency symptoms without taking iron supplements. People who have severe iron deficiencies might have difficulty concentrating. They may experience reduced immunity and shortness of breath. This condition is known as iron deficiency anemia, a disorder that affects 30 percent of the population. More than a negative balance of iron, iron deficiency anemia arises when iron levels are chronically low and depletion is in advanced stages.
Things to Consider
Due to the risk of poisoning, iron supplements should never be used without your doctor's knowledge. Iron vitamins are safe for most people, but side effects may occur, such as upset stomach and bowel changes. It's best to consume iron vitamins on an empty stomach, although people who experience stomach upset might lesson these effects by consuming their iron supplements with food.
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