A deficiency of iron can occur in the body for a variety of reasons, such as inadequate intake, poor absorption (for example chronic diarrhoea or malabsorption syndrome), increased iron demands (as in pregnancy) and abnormal loss of blood from the body (for example hookworm, gastric ulcers and frequent or excessive menstruation). Anemia is the most common form of iron deficiency.
, a mineral, functions primarily as a carrier of oxygen in the body, both as a part of hemoglobin
in the blood and of myoglobin
in the muscles.
Iron is one of the most important trace elements
required by the body and is widely distributed throughout it. The total iron content of a person varies with age, sex, nutrition, and state of health. Normal adult males are estimated to contain 4.5gm of iron. It is an essential element for the formation of hemoglobin of red blood cells
; about 60-70% of iron is contained in hemoglobin. Muscle tissues contain about 3% of iron as myoglobin
. The body stores iron in the liver
and bone marrow
as ferritin, hemosiderin and siderophilin.
Both iron and copper
are involved in oxidation-reduction reactions, which in turn are responsible for energy production in the body. Iron-containing protein is responsible for transport of oxygen from our lungs
to different organs. With out oxygen, none of the tissues can survive.
Causes and Development
Most people get enough iron
in their diet, but chronic bleeding from any cause, such as menstruation
, results in iron loss which may exceed intake, resulting in an additional requirement. A shortage of iron is most commonly evidenced by iron-deficiency anemia
. However, body stores of iron must be significantly depleted before anemia begins to develop.