Iron — a description of the action, role in the body and properties; the daily rate of the element; causes and symptoms of its deficiency, as well as excess; list of sources
Iron — one of the most ancient elements, which was obtained from ores of hematite, brown iron ore and magnetite. The Egyptians called it benipet (heavenly metal), in Greece — zido (star or star), because in ancient times it was the meteoric metal that was used. And the indigenous people of North America, right up to the discovery of the continent, processed precisely “heavenly” iron, not even knowing about the possibility of its extraction from ore.
Another theory of the space name was the fact that at that time (about 200 years ago) only seven metals were known, which were compared with seven planets. So iron was a symbol of the planet Mercury, and later it was associated with Mars because of the red shade of ores (see photo). The Latin name Ferrum (solid, strong) has become international and official.
In addition to the production of household items iron, as an element is very useful for the vital activity of the human body.
The action of the macro is mainly predetermined by the concentration in the blood. About 70% are hemoglobin and myoglobin. All the rest is distributed in the liver, bone marrow and spleen.
In short, in the body this element affects the following processes:
- hemoglobin and myoglobin formation in the blood, besides it is iron that stains blood red;
- due to its oxidative properties, it easily reacts with oxygen, and thus delivers it to tissues and organs;
- participates in intracellular metabolism and blood formation;
- neutralizes toxins in the liver;
- provides the activity of interferon — a protein released when a cell is damaged by a virus;
- participates in ensuring the functioning of the thyroid gland;
- provides assimilation of vitamins of group B;
- is one of the components of beauty — improves the appearance and structure of hair, nails and skin;
- resists the development of anemia;
- controls the normalization of growth in childhood.
Why is it that such a small amount of an element can have such a huge influence and play such a significant role in the human body? As already known, most of the total amount of the element is part of the blood enzymes — hemoglobin and myoglobin. It is due to the presence of iron, the first of them is able to saturate the blood with oxygen. Moreover, in this form, the ferrum reacts with oxygen one hundred times more active than any of the existing biological active compounds. At the same time, hemoglobin removes recycled carbon dioxide. Therefore, it is necessary for any athlete to provide the required amount of an element in the blood so that during active workouts a full saturation of the cells with oxygen takes place. Although it does not hurt any person for active life.
But myoglobin performs similar functions for muscle tissue, due to which endurance develops. So the name «strong» is given to him for good reason. It creates an oxygen reserve in the body, so you can not breathe for long under water.
Macroelement enters our body only with food. And today it is actually the main supplier of oxygen to our cells, because the skin is almost always hidden under clothes of not the best quality, we use little water, and we use products prepared in such ways that they lose both vitamins and oxygen.
By the way, the main cause of cancer is oxygen starvation and the accumulation of toxic carbon monoxide in the cells. Without the presence of iron, blood cells cannot form, and these in turn supply energy and building materials. Moreover, all these processes can occur as early as the embryo stage.
Anemia develops very quickly, especially if in addition to iron we do not have enough vitamins B and C, which help the gland to digest itself. Those. it turns out a double deficiency — the iron does not get enough, and what goes into it cannot be absorbed.
In addition to carbon monoxide, leukocytes produce hydrogen peroxide, which performs a useful function in the formation of immunity and the destruction of foreign microorganisms. But all that is good is good in moderation. Excess peroxide can also harm its own tissues. Iron as part of the enzyme catalase breaks it down into water and oxygen.
In addition to the circulatory system, oxygen is supplied to the brain tissue, which begins to die off after only 5 minutes without food. It is especially important to nourish the brain cells during the formation period.
The body is able to protect itself from excess iron, if there is no need, it just stops its absorption.
Daily rate (the need for an element for men, women and children)
The daily dose of the macro element is 18 mg for women under 50 years old and 9 mg for men under 50 years old. Why such difference? Women monthly lose with menstruation a certain amount of useful element. Women and men after 50 need 8 mg. For pregnant women, the rate of 27 mg, and in the period of lactation 9-10 mg.
Children, depending on age, will need 7-15 mg, and the largest of these indicators are needed in infants during the development of brain cells and adolescents.
There is another group of people in need of large doses of iron — athletes. So, depending on the sport, you need to fill the loss in the range of 25-45 mg per day. Also, all those who adhere to diets or dietary restrictions should take care of additional intake of vitamins and elements, in particular iron.
Newborn babies get all the necessary amount of a macro element with their mother’s milk, provided that the mother eats fully during lactation.
Do not forget that a large amount is lost every day with falling hair, peeling off skin cells and sweating.
The lack of a macro element occurs when it enters the body less than 1 mg per day. The reasons are varied: diet, vegetarianism, unbalanced diet, especially during intense workouts, pregnancy and lactation. The reason may be abundant blood loss in injuries, surgery, donation. Also, the deficit is real in violation of the element’s absorption due to diseases of the stomach and intestines (gastritis, dysbacteriosis), helminthiasis, tumors, thyroid imbalance. Iron levels are highly dependent on interactions with other substances, so a shortage can occur with an excess of retinol (vitamin E), calcium, zinc, and phosphates and a lack of ascorbic acid.
The main amount of iron can enter the body only with food, so you should treat this fact with great attention. The presence of a large amount of bread (especially white), potatoes, cereal in the absence of organic products will lead to a deficiency of a useful macroelement. It is necessary to take into account the fact that our body can absorb only a tenth of iron from food, especially in the absence of vitamin C.
As it turned out, in research, scientists found that modern food (sweets, flour products, ice cream, smoked meats and canned food) can completely deprive the body of all the beneficial elements, and, by saturating it with toxic phosphates. The same applies to the use of white bread, because the refined flour contains 4 times less iron than wholemeal flour.
Strengthened workouts lead to iron overuse, but symptoms are rarely seen in professional athletes, because thanks to an integrated approach to nutrition and nutritional supplements. Small activity, oddly enough, can also lead to a lack, because in this case there is a failure of cellular respiration.
The World Health Organization has recently been very concerned about the increasing incidence of anemia in many regions. Scientists attribute this phenomenon to iron deficiency and problems of its absorption from food. Therefore, today the task has been set of finding ways to enrich the products with iron.
Iron deficiency leads to such problems and diseases:
- disorders of a neurological nature — irascibility, imbalance, tachycardia, headaches and heartaches;
- geophagy — the desire to eat substances such as chalk, sand, earth (especially often observed in children and pregnant women);
- loss of taste due to atrophy of the papillae on the tongue;
- violation of the performance of the gastrointestinal tract;
- pallor, weakness in muscles, constant feeling of tiredness;
- memory impairment and decreased concentration;
- immunosuppression and an increase in the number of diseases associated with it;
- deformation of nails and hair loss, the appearance of wrinkles;
- problems with the development of children (physical and mental);
- risk of developing various tumors;
- Iron-deficiency anemia.
Excess iron is possible with high digestibility in the digestive tract, with a high content of it in products (for example, in water) or with excessive use of iron-containing drugs. Also contribute to the accumulation of the element of the disease of the pancreas, liver, including alcohol dependence.
It must be remembered that the toxic dose becomes 200 mg when it is absorbed, and it can become lethal when consumed 7-35 grams.
Complications can be serious:
- the condition of the body is aggravated in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s;
- the occurrence of cancer;
- there is a complete inhibition of the antioxidant function of the body;
- pathology in pregnant women;
- the deposition of an element in tissues and organs;
- increased skin pigmentation;
- poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss;
- the occurrence of diabetes, arthritis, atherosclerosis.
Externally, an excess of iron may resemble the development of jaundice (hepatitis A) — yellow skin and mouth, itching, enlarged liver. But it is possible to make a diagnosis only after conducting a biochemical analysis.
Exceeding the required amount of iron is not recommended for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis due to the high probability of swelling and inflammation of the joints.
Iron-rich foods are mainly of animal origin. These are pork, lamb, beef, poultry, fish, liver, eggs and seafood. But in order to get the maximum benefit, try to combine such food (mainly it undergoes heat treatment) with herbal products, and in combination one to three. Since trace elements are absorbed only in organic compounds and are not absorbed without vitamins.
A lot of iron can be found in beans, legumes, buckwheat, apples, pears, spinach, bran, flour products of coarse grinding. Despite the harm of sweets, some of them can bring benefits, such as halva and dark chocolate. But everything should be in moderation. And the richest in beneficial element is considered molasses, which is a by-product in the production of sugar.
You should also eat nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, nuts, dried apricots. Few people know that common nettle is a source of large amounts of mineral salts, amino acids. Since ancient times, it has been an excellent remedy for anemia.
The main rules in order to avoid iron deficiency: foods must be natural, unrefined, and vitamins C and B12 should be used to promote iron absorption. Also helpers are manganese, copper and cobalt.
But drinks containing polyphenolic compounds (tea, coffee) and milk inhibit its action, as well as the elements zinc, calcium and phosphorus. Try to replace the above drinks with a glass of natural juice. The use of semi-finished products (canned food, sausages) should be limited because of the high content of soy protein, the inhibitory effect of iron.
Iron preparations are divided into oral and parenteral. The first produced in the form of sulfates, gluconates and fumarates and used if there are no violations of the gastrointestinal tract. Absorption occurs rather quickly. No additives of ascorbic acid and other additives are required, for the reason that absorption occurs very quickly in the duodenum. When taking medications, side effects may occur, such as nausea, cramping and stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea, and the feces turn black.
If taking oral drugs is impossible for various reasons, intramuscular injections or intravenous infusions are prescribed. This is rarely done because of the greater number of adverse reactions: headaches and dizziness, vomiting, redness and staining of the skin at the injection site, urticaria, problems with bronchi and even anaphylactic shock.
Appointment of such drugs can be made strictly according to the recommendations of doctors and specialists.
Indications for the appointment of macronutrients are mainly used for the treatment of anemia caused by iron deficiency and associated blood diseases. Here are the main ones:
- violation of the assimilation of an element from food in the intestine;
- with pronounced gastric ulcer diseases;
- iron deficiency anemia, especially when surgery is necessary.
Contraindications to taking drugs are hemochromatosis and hemosiderosis (a high level of iron deposits in tissues and organs), various types of anemia (aplastic, hemolytic, sideroblastic), lead poisoning, individual hypersensitivity to iron salts.
Parenteral administration in severe coronary insufficiency, allergic reactions, hepatitis, pyelonephritis and other diseases of the kidneys and liver is also prohibited.