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Overview of Minerals | Calcium | Chromium | Copper | Iodine | Iron | Magnesium | Zinc | Manganese | Molybdenum | Phosphorus | Potassium | Selenium | Other Trace Elements



Functions of Iron

  • Hemoglobin formation: the major function of iron is to combine with protein and copper in making hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the tissues which need oxygen to maintain basic life functions. Iron builds up the quality of the blood and increases resistance to stress and disease.
  • Myoglobin formation: iron is also necessary for the formation of myoglobin which is found only in muscle tissue. Myoglobin supplies oxygen to muscle cells for use in the chemical reaction that results in muscle contraction.
  • Iron also prevent fatigue and promotes good skin tone.

Deficiency of Iron

  • Severe iron deficiency results in anemia with small, pale, red blood cells that have a low hemoglobin concentration.
  • Iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy increases the risk of premature and low birth weight babies.
  • In young children, iron deficiency is associated with behavioral abnormalities (such as reduced attention span), and reduced cognitive performance that may not be fully reversible by iron replacement.
  • In adults, severe iron deficiency anemia impairs physical work capacity.

Recommended dietary allowance for Iron

See Recommended dietary allowances for minerals.

Food sources of Iron

Pig's liver, sardines, lean beef, chicken, black molasses, Marmite, wheatgerm, Brazil nuts, dark green vegetables.

Toxicity of iron

Iron supplements intended for other household members are the most common cause of pediatric poisoning deaths in the US.