In theory, our diet provides all the iron we need to ensure good health. Offal, red meat, poultry, fish and seafood contain varying amounts of iron which are theoretically sufficient to ensure our bodies function properly. Pulses, dried fruit, green vegetables and nuts also contain significant levels of iron though this is absorbed less easily by the body.
In fact, iron from animal sources is absorbed by the body five times more effectively than that from plant sources! It’s also worth noting that vitamin C promotes iron absorption in the body.
However, genetic or circumstantial factors mean that many people are deficient in iron. In developed countries, it is mainly:
… who are affected by anaemia. Some because they are in a period of rapid growth, some due to blood loss from monthly periods (which can significantly affect iron levels in the blood), others because the growth of the placenta and foetus uses up iron, and others still because of the iron needed for intensive exercise.
Iron deficiency can cause a number of symptoms (1-2):
Iron supplements offer a particularly effective response to these symptoms and are widely prescribed by doctors at many stages of life.
A course of iron supplements is thus often recommended for pregnant women and new-born babies. Following several studies suggestive of improved performance among high-level sportspeople, doctors frequently prescribe iron supplementation for such individuals. And finally, iron supplements are often recommended for children and adolescents to improve their intellectual performance.
And there’s a simple reason for this. Provided they’re dosed at a minimum of 2.1mg of iron per 100g (as is the case with our supplement Iron Bisglycinate), iron supplements support (3):
And this is the case even when blood tests show only a moderate level of anaemia. Supplementing with iron thus solves many problems and provides numerous benefits.
While a lack of iron, or anaemia, is responsible for many diseases and must be addressed with appropriate supplementation, excess iron in the body also poses a risk to health.
Iron actually accumulates in the body and can cause moderate to severe poisoning, depending on the amount absorbed:
It’s therefore vital that any decision to take iron supplements is not based entirely on symptoms of iron deficiency as these are common to many other deficiencies too!
The decision to supplement with iron must only be taken after a blood test to confirm your iron levels. Obtaining medical advice before starting a course of iron supplements is therefore essential.
If you have trouble concentrating or are suffering from chronic fatigue, you may also want to consider taking a vitamin C supplement (for example Liposomal Vitamin C). In the same vein, you could also try a multivitamin complex (such as Daily 1®), which may contain vitamin C, but also many other nutrients like magnesium and selenium.
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