Today we are going to be doing the calculation for how much iron you should take if you are iron deficient. Now, I know that might be a little bit confusing. A good way to think about it is simply as — how much iron should you take if you are feeling tired or fatigued?
If you are iron deficient, how much iron do you need? Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. As a matter of fact, approximately 15% of the entire white and black population in the United States suffers from this deficiency.
How Much Iron Should You Take If You Are Iron Deficient
If you are iron deficient, you may be wondering what how much iron to take if you are iron deficient. In the United States, around 36% of people, ages 14 through 49, are anemic or have low levels of iron in their blood. If you suffer from iron deficiency, you may be wondering whether it’s necessary for your health to take pregnancy vitamins that contain iron. Let’s look at some of the top reasons why women need to boost their daily intake of beneficial nutrients like iron, and find out how much iron should you take if you are iron deficient.
Iron needs vary according to age and sex. Infants, children, and teens have a broad range of iron needs. Adult men’s needs are more stable, while women’s fluctuate according to age and whether or not they’re pregnant or nursing.
Getting just the right amount
Interestingly, the way in which your body metabolizes iron is unique, as it doesn’t excrete this mineral and instead recycles and retains it.
Thus, getting too much or too little iron can be a concern.
Too much iron
Iron is concentrated in human blood. Because of this, people who receive regular blood transfusions, such as those in cancer therapy, may be at risk for getting too much iron.
This condition is known as iron overload. It happens because your body cannot rid itself of its iron stores before being supplied with more from the blood transfusion.
While iron is necessary, too much could be toxic and damage your liver, heart, and other vital organs.
However, iron overload is not a concern when your iron comes from diet alone — unless you have a condition like hemochromatosis, which causes increased absorption of iron in your digestive tract.
Keep in mind that the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) — the highest amount you can safely consume — is 40–45 mg per day for iron, depending on your sex and age (11Trusted Source).
Overconsumption of iron can also be dangerous for our body as it increases the risk of heart failure, liver diseases, diabetes and metabolic syndrome to name a few. Iron overload in our body is also the main cause of the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
Elevated levels of iron in our body can be due to: genetic disorders, more iron shots/injection, increased consumption of iron-rich foods or intake, or iron supplements in a large amount. Here are some of the risks associated with iron overconsumption.
Not enough iron
Pregnant women, infants, endurance athletes, and teenage girls are most at risk of iron deficiency (2Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Babies who are not getting adequate iron may be slow to gain weight. They may also seem pale, tired, lack appetite, get sick more often, and be irritable.
Iron deficiency can also lead to poor concentration, a short attention span, and negative effects on children’s academic performance (4).
Not getting enough iron could also cause iron-deficiency anemia, the most common nutritional deficiency in the world (2Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
If you have this condition, your body doesn’t have enough iron to form new red blood cells. It’s typically caused by either a diet deficient in iron or by chronic blood losses (6Trusted Source).
Symptoms to look for
If you’re not getting enough iron, you may feel weak, fatigued, and bruise easily. You may be pale, feel anxious, or have cold hands and feet or brittle nails. You might also experience abnormal cravings, such as a desire to eat soil — a condition known as pica (13Trusted Source).
Alternately, if you experience joint pain or a change in skin tone, or if you get sick easily, you might be getting too much iron. You are especially at risk if you regularly receive blood transfusions (14Trusted Source).
If you’re concerned that you’re getting too much or too little iron, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider.
Hemochromatosis, a disease caused by a mutation in the hemochromatosis (HFE) gene, is associated with an excessive buildup of iron in the body [3,39,94]. About 1 in 10 whites carry the most common HFE mutation (C282Y), but only 4.4 whites per 1,000 are homozygous for the mutation and have hemochromatosis . The condition is much less common in other ethnic groups. Without treatment by periodic chelation or phlebotomy, people with hereditary hemochromatosis typically develop signs of iron toxicity by their 30s . These effects can include liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, heart disease, and impaired pancreatic function. The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases recommends that treatment of hemochromatosis include the avoidance of iron and vitamin C supplements .
The FNB has established ULs for iron from food and supplements based on the amounts of iron that are associated with gastrointestinal effects following supplemental intakes of iron salts (see Table 3). The ULs apply to healthy infants, children, and adults. Physicians sometimes prescribe intakes higher than the UL, such as when people with IDA need higher doses to replenish their iron stores.
WHY IS IRON IMPORTANT?
Iron plays a role in many different functions in our body. Most notably, it is important in producing red blood cells, which carry oxygen from our lungs to different parts of the body. Iron helps support the immune system and helps regulate body temperature. It’s also needed for brain development and maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails, and making hormones.