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How Does Iron Impact Your Body?

Iron is an essential element that performs many important functions in the human body. In its free state, it’s toxic to the body, but it bonds with proteins to form a coordination complex or is incorporated into a porphyrin group. When the ferrous form of iron binds with protoporphyrin IX, it’s known as heme, and heme is found in proteins that handle oxygen transport, including hemoglobin and myoglobin.

About 70% of the body’s iron is locked up in hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and functions to carry oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. Myoglobin is found in muscles and is used to store oxygen.

Non-heme iron is associated with proteins connected to metabolism and energy production as well as in iron storage proteins. It’s also essential for the production of some hormones.

At Concierge IV Nutrition in Beverly Hills, California, our expert team of providers understands how important iron is for your body and knows the consequences if you don’t get enough of it. That’s why we offer iron IV therapy as a solution for our patients who have iron deficiency anemia. Here’s what you need to know about how iron functions in your body and what we can do to help you maintain healthy levels.

Getting iron in your diet

Iron is found both naturally in many foods and is an additive to some fortified food products. You can get your recommended daily dose by eating:

  • Lean meat, poultry, and seafood
  • Iron-fortified breads and breakfast cereals
  • White beans, kidney beans, peas, lentils, and spinach
  • Nuts and dried fruits, including raisins

Iron derived from food comes in two distinct forms: heme and non-heme. Non-heme iron is found primarily in plant foods and iron-fortified foods. Meat, seafood, and poultry have both types.

The U.S. recommended daily allowance for iron depends on your age and gender; vegetarians have increased requirements because of a lower absorption level from plant-based foods. Your body absorbs iron better from plant sources when you consume them with meat, poultry, seafood, and foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and sweet peppers.

Am I getting enough iron?

Most Americans get enough iron, but certain groups are more likely than others to have trouble getting all the iron they need. These include:

  • Teenage girls and women who experience heavy periods
  • Pregnant women
  • Infants (especially premature or low-birthweight)
  • Frequent blood donors
  • People with cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, or heart failure

In the short term, not getting enough iron doesn’t produce obvious symptoms. That’s because your body can draw on its stores from the liver, spleen, muscles, and bone marrow. But when those stores become depleted, the result is iron deficiency anemia. Red blood cells shrink and contain less hemoglobin, so the blood can’t carry as much oxygen to the tissues that need it.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include fatigue, weakness, GI upset, and problems with focus and memory. In addition, people with iron deficiency anemia have a less robust immune system, find it difficult to work and exercise, and have problems controlling their body temperature. Infants and toddlers with the condition may develop learning difficulties.

How to boost your iron

You can get iron supplements at almost any food store or pharmacy. While dietary supplements that contain iron are important to your good health, you should always keep them out of the reach of children.

An excellent way to supplement your iron, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with anemia, is through IV therapy. When you receive iron intravenously, it doesn’t need to pass through your digestive tract before it can be used; it goes directly into your bloodstream, where it can be combined with proteins, used, and stored safely.

When you take iron supplements, it may be difficult to ensure you’re getting the right amount. High doses of iron can lead to nausea and vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, and fainting and can also decrease your ability to absorb zinc. Our naturopathic doctors offer a regimen that follows all of the guidelines for proper dosage.

If you’re feeling chronically tired, have a hard time warding off illness, and can’t seem to get your body temperature right, you may have iron deficiency anemia. Call the experts at Concierge IV Nutrition at 424-260-8912 to find out if an IV infusion is right for you, or schedule a consultation online today.