Why is Iron important in our body?
Iron is an essential mineral in our body. It is an important part of the hemoglobin in blood. Hemoglobin is the protein substance that is present in the red blood cells (RBCs). One important task of red blood cells (RBC) is to carry oxygen from lungs to heart, brain and other parts of the body. Low iron condition leads to decreased level of hemoglobin in the red blood cells (RBCs). In such a condition RBCs fail to carry requisite amount of oxygen from lungs to your body tissues. This can result into multiple health problems.
How much iron is required in our body?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron on a daily basis is follows:
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|Birth to 6 months||0.27 mg|
|Infants 7-12 months||11 mg|
|Children 1-3 years||7 mg|
|Children 4-8 years||10 mg|
|Children 9-13 years||8 mg|
|Teens boys 14-18 years||11 mg|
|Teens girls 14-18 years||15 mg|
|Adult men 19-50 years||8 mg|
|Adult women 19-50 years||18 mg|
|Adults 51 years and older||8 mg|
|Pregnant teens||27 mg|
|Pregnant women||27 mg|
|Breastfeeding teens||10 mg|
|Breastfeeding women||9 mg|
Can there be Iron overdose?
Yes. There can be a case of iron overdose in the body where iron instead of binding to protein, circulate freely in blood. Free iron has an ability to damage body cells.
Iron overdose in Indians mainly happens due to two reasons:
Hereditary hemochromatosis: A genetic disorder due to which your body absorbs more iron from food. The excess iron is stored in the body’s tissues and organs, particularly the skin, heart, liver, pancreas, and joints. Since you cannot excrete the excess iron, it will gradually build up on your tissues and start hurting the cells.
Overdose of Iron supplements: Though this is rare but it happens when you start taking iron supplements without proper medical consultation. Many of your foods are fortified with iron. Over that, it you start taking extra supplements when your iron levels are actually normal, you stand a chance to overdose yourself.
What happens when I have an Iron overdose?
As already mentioned, human body cannot excrete extra iron. The free iron tends to build up in vital organs and damage tissues. Sudden iron poisoning is rare unless too many iron supplements are popped up in a day. Gradual iron poisoning happening through a continuous diet and medication or due to hereditary reasons, will start showing symptoms such as Diarrhea and Vomiting. Iron overdose has also been linked to serious diseases like organ failure and cancer.
THIP Medical Advisory team recommends regular diagnostic to check your iron levels in blood, In case you fall short, consult a doctor before starting on medication or supplements. Do not self medicate.
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