May Help Support Healthy Blood Cell, Gut, Muscle and (Certain) Hormone Function*
What Are the Benefits of Iron?
Iron is a mineral that the body needs for growth and development. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. Your body also needs iron to make some hormones.
What Foods Provide Iron?
Iron in food comes in two forms: heme iron and nonheme iron. Nonheme iron is found in plant foods and iron-fortified food products. Meat, seafood, and poultry have both heme and nonheme iron.
Your body absorbs iron from plant sources better when you eat it with meat, poultry, seafood, and foods that contain vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli.
What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough Iron?
In the short term, getting too little iron does not cause obvious symptoms. The body uses its stored iron in the muscles, liver, spleen, and bone marrow. But when levels of iron stored in the body become low, iron deficiency anemia sets in. Red blood cells become smaller and contain less hemoglobin. As a result, blood carries less oxygen from the lungs throughout the body.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include GI upset, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, and problems with concentration and memory. In addition, people with iron deficiency anemia are less able to fight off germs and infections, to work and exercise, and to control their body temperature. Infants and children with iron deficiency anemia might develop learning difficulties.
Iron deficiency is not uncommon in the United States, especially among young children, women under 50, and pregnant women. It can also occur in people who do not eat meat, poultry, or seafood; lose blood; have GI diseases that interfere with nutrient absorption; or eat poor diets.