Why We Need Iron Food Fortification

WHY WE NEED IRON

Iron is an important mineral required for a number of essential cell functions and hence is a vital nutrient. Only trace amounts of it are needed; the recommended daily intake is between 7 and 30 mg/day but this is highly dependent on gender and age. Iron is absolutely vital for oxygen transportation, energy production, hormone synthesis, growth, development, brain function, immune activity, and healthy cell function.

Mental Performance

Iron helps boost concentration, focus and mood. Even a small iron deficiency without anemia may cause cognitive disturbances. In the developing brain iron is essential for myelination of neurons, a balanced dopaminergic system and the development of parts of the brain important for cognitive functions such as memory.

mental performance

Immune

Iron is essential for the normal function of the immune system. Iron metabolism can be regulated to fight bacterial infections.

immune 4

Vegetarians

Plant-derived non-heme iron is not absorbed as well as heme iron from meat. Iron supplementation is usually needed to meet the adequate daily requirements of iron when following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

vegetarians

Oxygen

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the element in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body.

oxygen 1

Pregnancy

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have a higher requirement of iron (27 mg/day). Iron supplementation reduces the risk of pre-term birth and low birth weight.

pregnancy 3

Women

Iron helps replenish blood lost during menstruation. Women of reproductive age generally need a higher daily dose of iron (18 mg/day).

women 2

Physical performance

Iron helps convert carbohydrates into energy during exercise. During recovery from strenuous exercise, iron helps against soreness and shortens recovery time. Iron supplementation is associated with both an increase in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and lower heart rates during exercise, especially in women.

physical performance

Hair and nails

Hair, skin, and nails require iron to retain their natural luster, shine, and moisture. Anemia can cause pale and dull skin, unexplained bruising and brittle hair and nails.

hair and nails 2

Iron helps boost concentration, focus and mood. Even a small iron deficiency without anemia may cause cognitive disturbances. In the developing brain iron is essential for myelination of neurons, a balanced dopaminergic system and the development of parts of the brain important for cognitive functions such as memory.

Iron is essential for the normal function of the immune system. Iron metabolism can be regulated to fight bacterial infections.
Plant-derived non-heme iron is not absorbed as well as heme iron from meat. Iron supplementation is usually needed to meet the adequate daily requirements of iron when following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the element in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have a higher requirement of iron (27 mg/day). Iron supplementation reduces the risk of pre-term birth and low birth weight.
Iron helps replenish blood lost during menstruation. Women of reproductive age generally need a higher daily dose of iron (18 mg/day).
Iron helps convert carbohydrates into energy during exercise. During recovery from strenuous exercise, iron helps against soreness and shortens recovery time. Iron supplementation is associated with both an increase in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and lower heart rates during exercise, especially in women.
Hair, skin, and nails require iron to retain their natural luster, shine, and moisture. Anemia can cause pale and dull skin, unexplained bruising and brittle hair and nails.

Iron is an essential mineral which has to be absorbed through the diet.There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin. It is found in animal foods such as red meats, fish, and poultry.

Nonheme iron is found in in plant foods such as lentils, beans and spinach. Other good sources of nonheme iron are enriched breakfast cereals, cooked beans, tofu, dried apricots and pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds.

In some countries grain products like flour, pasta and breakfast cereals are fortified with non-heme iron. This type of iron is the main source of iron in our diet, but it has a lower bioavailability.

Nutritional iron deficiency occurs when the diet supplies insufficient bioavailable iron to meet the body’s requirements (e.g. for growth and pregnancy) or to replace iron lost through the gastrointestinal tract and skin, in the urine, and through menstruation. The major factors of nutritional iron deficiency are limited dietary diversity, and animal foods rich in bioavailable iron being displaced by cereals, legumes, and plant-based diets. Despite over 50 years of iron food fortification, iron deficiency is still pervasive.

DIETARY SOURCES OF IRON

Iron is an essential mineral which has to be absorbed through the diet. Heme iron is a dietary source of iron found in animal foods such as red meats, fish, and poultry. Nonheme iron is found in in plant foods. Nonheme iron is the main source of iron in our diet, but it has a lower bioavailability. Nutritional iron deficiency occurs when the diet supplies insufficient bioavailable iron to meet the body’s requirements (e.g. for growth and pregnancy) or to replace iron lost through the gastrointestinal tract and skin, in the urine, and through menstruation. The major factors of nutritional iron deficiency are limited dietary diversity, and animal foods being displaced plant-based diets.

DIETARY SOURCES OF IRON

Why We Need Iron Food Fortification

IRON DEFICIENCY,
A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. Iron deficiency is more prevalent in children under 6 years old and in women of childbearing age.

Insufficient iron uptake is a global public health problem affecting around 20% of people in developed countries and up to 60% in some developing countries.
This affects around a billion people to a greater or lesser extent. Iron deficiency can have consequences on human health such as an impaired cerebral and intellectual development, especially if the deficiency takes place during pregnancy, the perinatal period and early childhood.

Prevalence of iron deficiency

PREGNANCY AND EARLY LIFE

A large number of studies stress the importance of iron during prenatal development and early
childhood. Children that suffered iron deficiency showed several cognitive problems compared to
children with normal iron levels.

IRON DEFICIENCIES DURING DEVELOPMENT LEADS TO:

Slower response to external
stimulation

Difficulties in cognitive processes such as memory, spatial memory and psychomotor skills

Lower marks in school tests
which rate mental aptitude

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