We need iron to form haemoglobin and help it to function. Haemoglobin is a molecule in the blood that allows the body's cells to breathe by supplying oxygen (O2) and absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2). Haemoglobin regenerates during pulmonary circulation, where it collects oxygen by releasing CO2.
The recommended iron dose is (RDA/NRV): 14-18 mg/day, up to a maximum of 30-45mg/day as a supplement.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY?
Iron deficiency affects more than 1.6 billion people worldwide. It is more prevalent in developing parts of the world, but still affects 10% of young children, girls, and women of childbearing age in the US and Canada.
Iron deficiency develops in stages.
1. Early depletion of iron reserves: at this early stage, the body's iron reserves begin to dwindle without functionally affecting the areas of the body that require iron. Although diagnostic indicators such as serum ferritin levels decrease, iron transport molecules such as transferrin increase and total iron binding capacity (TIBC) increases.
2. Early functional iron deficiency: at this stage, iron availability is depleted enough to affect the areas of the body that need iron to function properly, e.g. red blood cell production. Although clinical anaemia may not yet have developed, iron decreases significantly. This is detectable by measuring transferrin levels and its saturation. There is more transferrin and less iron in the blood and a lower percentage of transferrin saturation. In addition, there are high levels of free erythrocyte protoporphyrins in circulation.
3. Iron deficiency anaemia: is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Clinically it causes symptoms such as weakness and lethargy. Haemoglobin levels decrease and red blood cells become smaller and less pigmented. As iron is essential for multiple cellular functions, iron deficiency can lead to deficits that affect various systems and cause functional problems. These include impaired blood cell production, gastrointestinal disorders, impaired cognition, reduced immune function, impaired exercise resistance or work performance, and impaired body temperature regulation. In infants and children, learning difficulties and neurocognitive and psychomotor problems may result from untreated iron deficiency.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT DOES OF IRON TO TAKE?
The recommended iron dose is (RDA/NRV): 14-18 mg/day, up to a maximum of 30-45mg/day as a supplement, to be taken preferably with meals.
Doses above 50mg may cause gastrointestinal upset, especially on an empty stomach.
WHY IRON SULPHATE?
It is a very soluble and easily absorbed salt.
WHY VITAMIN C?
Studies have shown the dose-dependent enhancing effects of vitamin C on iron absorption. This effect is mainly due to its ability to chelate and reduce iron, converting ferric iron into ferrous iron, which has a higher solubility. Vitamin C has also been shown to have a protective effect on iron from substances that can reduce its absorption, such as phytate, polyphenols, and calcium.
IRON AND SPORTS
Iron deficiency is common in athletes participating in endurance sports. 28% of women marathon runners are iron deficient (compared to 11% of the general female population). About 10-15% of iron-deficient athletes have a mild form of anaemia. Several mechanisms are generally linked to iron loss during exercise:
• exercise-induced red blood cell destruction, owing to mechanical forces and oxidative stress;
• blood loss in gastrointestinal and urinary tracts due to microscopic lesions caused by reduced visceral circulation during exercise;
• iron sequestration in macrophages and reduced iron uptake due to increased hepcidin production caused by the induction of an inflammatory response. Increased pro-inflammatory markers, occult blood loss in urine and faeces, and a reduced haptoglobin level immediately after intensive training (<24 hours) are observed in patients.
- Diagnosing anaemia
Anaemia describes a decrease in the number of red blood cells (measured by red blood cell count, haematocrit, or haemoglobin content of red blood cells).
In men, anaemia is defined as follows:
· Haemoglobin < 14 g/dL (140 g/L)
· Haematocrit < 42% (< 0.42)
· Red blood cells < 4.5 milllion/mcL
In women, anaemia is defined as follows:
· Haemoglobin < 12 g/dL (120 g/L)
· Haematocrit < 37% (< 0.37)
· Red blood cells < 4 milllion/mcL