Why Is Iron Important and How to Get More in Your Diet

Lack of iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world


The recommended daily dietary allowance for iron for 19-to-50-year-old women is 18 mg and 8 mg for men. It doesn’t sound like much, but between 10 and 15 percent of adults in the U.S. don’t have enough and thousands are hospitalized every year.[slideshow:86208]

Lack of the essential nutrient is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, and women are affected more than men, according to the American Family Physician. Possible negative effects include lowered work capacity, poor motor skills, fatigue, and hair loss.

Iron is crucial for the production of hemoglobin, which is needed for red blood cells to carry oxygen all over the body, Angela Martindale, a celebrity nutritionist, says.

The nutrient is also needed for the transportation electrons within cells, and for important enzyme systems in various tissues.

There are two types of iron – heme and non-heme. The body absorbs between 15 and 30 percent of heme iron, found in  only 2 to 20 percent of non-heme iron, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. That’s why you may be eating a lot of iron-rich foods and still not have enough of it.  

Click here to see how you can get more iron in your diet

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