July 3, 2012
Getting the iron you need
Just as not enough iron in your diet can hurt your health, so can too much.
According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world, affecting up to a third of the population.
Iron is an essential mineral and is required to transport oxygen throughout your body. Exhaustion and fatigue set in when you're low on iron, which can affect everything from brain function to your immune system.
Do you need more iron?
Your daily iron needs depend on a number of factors, including age, gender and overall health. While many people can get the iron they need from foods such as red meat, leafy greens and egg yolks, sometimes supplementation is needed. Initial symptoms of iron deficiency can include fatigue, general lack of energy and decreased ability to concentrate.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you're not getting enough iron, ask your doctor if iron supplementation can help.
Iron deficient? Research your options
Whether in your diet or a daily supplement, iron is a very difficult mineral for the body to absorb.
For example, menstruating women need to absorb only 2 mg of iron daily, yet most traditional iron supplements contain 50 to 65 mg. Of this, very little is absorbed. The result is excess iron, which can lead to uncomfortable side effects such as stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
Talk to your doctor. If you do need iron, remember: A lower-dose iron supplement with high absorption means side effects are less likely.
—North American Precis Syndicate Inc.