Iron plays a significant role in the body: it is involved in cell growth, blood formation, tissue respiration, energy and cholesterol metabolism, affects the activity of the endocrine and immune systems, is an integral part of enzymes, coenzymes, and proteins.
With its participation, water-soluble vitamins are absorbed. It helps the liver detoxify
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Therefore, iron deficiency cannot remain invisible to the body and has many different manifestations:
- asthenic syndrome develops (increased irritability, tearfulness, fatigue, chronic fatigue, weakness, mood deterioration),
- headaches, dizziness, decreased attention, memory impairment,
- the heartbeat becomes more frequent, extrasystoles may appear, manifested by a periodic sensation of interruptions in the work of the heart,
- appetite worsens, dysphagic phenomena may appear (difficulty in swallowing food, a feeling of “lump” in the throat, heaviness in the stomach, a feeling of rapid satiety), dyspeptic phenomena, including bloating, constipation, burning and dryness of the lips,
- dry and itchy skin, brittle nails, hair loss and thinning.
With iron deficiency, it is impossible to reduce weight, improve the condition of the skin, hair, nails. Children with iron deficiency often lag behind in development, often catch colds. The body first of all saturates hemoglobin with iron and only then other enzymes, and therefore a normal level of hemoglobin does not indicate a sufficient amount of iron in the body.
Accordingly, it is very important to correctly investigate not only the presence of anemia (decrease in hemoglobin levels), but also hidden iron deficiency (when the hemoglobin level is normal, but iron metabolism indicators indicate a decrease in serum iron and / or ferritin, transferrin and other indicators). Depending on the laboratory, the normal level of hemoglobin ranges from 120-140 g/l, serum iron – from 5 to 35 µmol/l, ferritin from 60 to 150 µg/l. When iron deficiency is detected, a full examination by a specialist is required in order to identify the cause of the loss or non-absorption of iron by the body. It is also important to take into account the level of magnesium, zinc, calcium, chromium, phosphates in the body. These and other trace elements adversely affect iron metabolism. Without taking into account the features, it is impossible to fully restore iron deficiency.
Sources of iron
The body can get iron from food, more actively from animal products, because there it is in the form of muscle myoglobin and blood hemoglobin, which contributes to easier and faster absorption. Coming from plant foods, iron must undergo a series of transformations. At the same time, for its assimilation, certain components are required, for example, vitamin C.
Of the products of animal origin, iron is found in large quantities in red meat (meat of turkey, pork, lamb, rabbit, beef), beef liver, tongue, egg yolk, and in smaller quantities in fish and dairy products.
Of the products of plant origin, the leader in iron content is raspberry. They are also rich in legumes (beans, peas, lentils), seaweed, dried apricots, millet, buckwheat, some vegetables (potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, avocados, dark green vegetables, porcini mushrooms, herbs), hazelnuts, berries and fruits (pomegranate , peach, apples, plums, pears, quince, figs, blackberries, rose hips). Of course, you need to take into account individual food intolerance.
Norms of iron intake per day vary depending on age, gender, physiological conditions:
- The daily requirement of an adult male for iron is about 10 mg.
- In women, this need is more pronounced – from 15 to 20 mg per day. This is due to physiological characteristics, monthly blood loss. Gynecologists know how vulnerable women with adenomyosis, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids are in relation to iron deficiency. During pregnancy, the need for iron increases significantly.
- With physical exertion and sports, the adult body’s need for iron changes: from 20-25 mg / day for cardio and playing sports to 40-45 mg / day (running, skiing, weightlifting). Therefore, it is important to regularly examine the level of markers of iron metabolism in the body.
- Depending on age, children need 5 to 15 mg of iron per day.
How is it treated
In cases where iron levels are normal and there are no chronic diseases that reduce iron stores, regular intake of iron-rich foods is often sufficient. Keep in mind that vegetarians are at risk for iron deficiency in the body. This is especially critical for children.
But we must not forget that only about 10% of the iron consumed orally can be absorbed by the body through the gastrointestinal tract, which averages about 1.5-2 mg per day.
In the case of already developed iron deficiency and, especially, anemia, an increase in the amount of iron in the diet is not able to normalize its level. Its additional administration is required, taking into account not only the quantity, but also bioavailability, the body’s ability to absorb the substance and store it.
There are different ways to do this: oral (chelate, heme forms, complex preparations), parenteral (intravenously).
With a pronounced/chronic decrease in the level of iron in the body, the intake of oral preparations/ dietary supplements (in the form of tablets, capsules, ampoules) is not able to provide even the daily needs of the body, and even more so to accumulate iron and normalize its level. With oral intake of iron, a lot of side effects are also often observed (constipation, heaviness in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, etc.). And these drugs are prescribed for at least a few months. Given the often poor tolerability, the need for long-term high doses to obtain a slow delayed effect, many people stop taking drugs by mouth and stop treatment. The bottom line is that about a quarter of the population lives with hidden iron deficiency, with a reduced quality of life, with often incorrect treatment of various symptoms, with the subsequent development of already chronic diseases. The statistics are especially sad for women.
Therefore, in situations of blood loss (acute or chronic, which is often observed in chronic conditions), with severe iron deficiency, parenteral forms of iron (intravenous drip infusions) are successfully used to quickly provide the body with this important trace element.
The use of high-quality drugs from proven manufacturers, in individually selected doses with monitoring of a person’s condition after infusion, allows you to quickly normalize the level of iron, including in case of latent iron deficiency, improve the condition and well-being of a person, and in the future choose the route and conditions for iron administration that suits a particular person.
Photo: Vostock Photo
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