What is the scientific name for iron
What is iron
Iron is an element that is responsible for transporting oxygen in the human body. The human organism contains between 2 and 4 grams of iron. One third of iron is stored in the liver, spleen, intestinal lining and bone marrow. Two thirds of the iron is in the blood, bound to the red blood pigment hemoglobin. The inhaled oxygen is bound to the iron in the blood and transported to the organs.
The iron content can only be regulated through food intake. Men need around ten milligrams of iron per day, women around 15 milligrams. The need for iron is increased in some situations, for example after bleeding, during pregnancy and after childbirth, and during menstruation. Then it is important to eat foods that are high in iron.
Iron, ferritin and transferritin
When people ingest iron through food, only a small amount gets into the blood through the intestinal cells. The rest of the iron is excreted again. In the blood, iron binds to a protein called transferrin. It brings the trace element to various organs and tissues. If the iron is to be stored, it is bound to the protein "ferritin" and deposited in this form in the organs.
In order to determine an iron deficiency or an excess of iron, the level of iron, ferritin and transferrin in the blood must always be determined. The iron level depends on age, gender and diet. An iron deficiency (iron values too low) is more common than an iron excess (iron values too high). The excess iron is deposited in some organs, especially the liver, and can cause organ damage there.
When do you determine the iron values?
The doctor determines the level of iron in the blood to diagnose iron deficiency or excess iron. An iron deficiency often manifests itself with chronic fatigue, dizziness, paleness, headache and reduced resilience. Too much iron in the blood can also be seen as tiredness and poor concentration. In addition, the skin can become bronze and joint problems can occur.
In some diseases that also disrupt the iron metabolism, the iron content is determined to monitor the progress.
Iron deficiency - this is how you can prevent it
Keeping iron balance under controlTired? Brittle nails? Hair loss? The cause can be too little iron in the body. A problem that women especially have. Iron deficiency can be prevented well. We'll show you a few tricks you can use to keep your iron balance under control.
Eat plenty of ironWithout iron, the body is in a fix, it needs the trace element, among other things, for blood formation. That is why you should take it in your diet every day. Plenty of it, because iron does not dissolve easily from the food pulp - your body can only use around ten percent of the amount of iron it contains. Therefore, the recommendation for adults is to consume 10 to 20 mg iron per day to cover the requirement of 1 to 2 mg.
Fill up the empty iron reservoir at high speedIf the iron stores in the body are empty, however, the iron absorption can increase. Provided that enough iron-rich food is consumed. 150 grams of veal, for example, contains around 3.1 mg iron, 30 grams of fine liver sausage 2.2 mg. A slice of whole grain bread has 1 mg iron, 200 g steamed chanterelles even 11.6 mg. Nuts also contain iron: Pistachios are best with 4.4 mg iron per 60 g.
Particularly valuable - animal ironBut not all iron sources are the same. People can use animal iron particularly well because it is what is known as bivalent iron (Fe2 +). The human intestine has a specific absorption route for this. Iron is bound in plants in a different chemical form (Fe3 +) and is therefore less readily absorbed than from animal sources.
Offal - edible iron storesBringing meat or fish to the table on a regular basis is therefore a good idea. If you want to take in a lot of iron at once, you should consume the organs that store a lot of iron in animals. These are, for example, offal like liver or heart.
Iron-hard vegetarian alternativesBut vegetarians can also use foods that contain a lot of iron. For example, beetroot, legumes or whole grains are good. Since the iron contained cannot be used as well, vegetarians have to pay particular attention to their iron supply. And watch out: some nutrients can worsen the absorption and should therefore not be eaten at the same time.
Beware, iron blockers!Oxalates (rhubarb, spinach) and phylates (rice, corn) or tannins (black tea, coffee) tea but also foods with a high pH value block the absorption of iron. Others, however, promote iron absorption ...
Healthy mix: iron with orange juiceFoods that contain a lot of ascorbate, i.e. salts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), make it easier for the body to absorb iron. So if you drink orange or grapefruit juice with your meal, for example, or enrich your meals with vegetables such as paprika or broccoli, you increase the iron bioavailability from your meal.
Prevention of blood lossIt is the iron in the red blood cells that enables oxygen to be transported. That is why any severe blood loss also makes you limp. Women lose iron during their menstrual period. If the blood loss is pronounced here, it can in some cases be useful to counteract this with hormonal contraception using the pill. This reduces the monthly loss of blood and thus iron.
More iron for pregnant women!Women who are pregnant have a particularly high need for iron. Because the placenta and the fetus need additional care. The recommendation for pregnant and breastfeeding women is therefore 30 or 20 mg iron per day.
Are you suffering from iron deficiency?But even if you stay below the recommended intake, it does not necessarily mean an iron deficiency. In Germany around three percent of men and ten percent of women are affected by this. To determine this, a blood test is necessary. With their help, the doctor determines whether it is necessary to supply iron artificially through dietary supplements.
Two hours before dinnerDietary supplements containing iron are available as juice, capsules or tablets. It is important to take the preparations two hours before meals so that they can be easily absorbed. However, these should only be used on the recommendation of the doctor - because iron can also be overdosed.
Warning, side effectsIron supplements can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. The color of the chair can also darken. Adhere to the dosage recommendations, otherwise symptoms of poisoning can occur. Vomiting, diarrhea, and even circulatory collapse are possible consequences.
- OfMedical editor and biologist
Iron - normal values
At Women and men Iron blood levels are usually in the following ranges:
The iron norms for Children and adolescents you can find - separated by gender and age - in the next table:
When are the iron levels low?
There is not enough iron in the blood in the following diseases:
- Iron deficiency anemia (caused by bleeding, digestive tract disorders, diet, growth, pregnancy)
- chronic inflammation
In addition to the iron level in the blood, the transferrin and ferritin content must always be determined. This is the only way to determine the cause of the iron metabolism disorder. In the case of inflammation, for example, the iron and ferritin levels in the blood are reduced. During pregnancy, on the other hand, the iron content in the blood is increased and the ferritin content decreased.
When are the iron levels increased?
If the iron level is too high, it can have a variety of causes. The most important are:
- Anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells (haemolytic anemia)
- Anemia caused by decreased cell formation in the bone marrow (aplastic anemia)
- some time after large amounts of transfusions
- Iron storage disease (hemochromatosis)
- excessive iron intake (for example, during iron therapy)
- Blood cancer (leukemia)
- severe liver damage, for example in the case of hepatitis or heavy alcohol consumption
The iron level in the blood is also increased during pregnancy, but this is normal in this situation.
What to do if the iron value has changed
If there is too much iron in the blood or if the iron value is reduced, the ferritin and transferrin concentration as well as the number of red blood cells must also be determined. Only when these values are available, the doctor can make a statement about the cause of the changed iron values.
In the case of iron deficiency due to reduced intake through food, iron can be taken in tablets. However, it is easier for the body to absorb from food and there are no side effects. There are vegetable and animal products that contain large amounts of iron (such as wheat bran, liver).
If the iron excess is severe, bloodletting is sometimes necessary. Here, as with a blood sample, a needle is placed in a vein. The doctor takes blood through the needle and thus iron.
Author & source information
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