A lack of iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the United States and in many other areas of the world, especially in women. This important mineral is found in many common foods, including your favorite That’s It. Fruit Bar. Getting enough iron is essential for your body to work properly and efficiently. Let’s take a look at three ways iron is beneficial to your health.
The primary role of iron in the body is to help circulate oxygen from the lungs to the different cells of your body through the bloodstream. The blood relies on a protein called hemoglobin to transport oxygen through the bloodstream to the various tissues of the body. Iron is used by hemoglobin to attach oxygen molecules to four different binding sites on each hemoglobin molecule for transport. Myoglobin also relies heavily on iron to transport oxygen specifically to the muscle tissues of the body. Without enough iron, access to oxygen is reduced to the body. Iron also assists in taking carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled from the body.
Neurochemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters rely on iron to function correctly. Without enough iron, neurotransmitters are unable to carry messages from nerve to nerve correctly and efficiently. This deficiency impacts your overall brain function and mental clarity.
Iron also plays an important role in energy production in the body. Iron is a co-factor for many enzymes during the process of cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is a procedure that allows the cells of the body to utilize energy stored in the chemical bonds of glucose. This energy is used to produce ATP, an essential source of energy for cells throughout the body.
The amount of iron each person requires depends on factors like age, level of health, gender and whether you’re currently going through changes like menopause or puberty which increase iron needs. Regardless of these factors, the best way to prevent iron deficiency is to consume a healthy, varied diet that includes a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, whole grains, fish, lean meats and dried beans.