Iron is a critical component of steel which makes it a vital element in the world. An even more important role of iron is in our bodies. The red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout our bodies require iron to be made. Iron is also a necessary element for maintaining healthy hair, nails, and skin. When our diets are iron deficient, it leads to a decrease in red blood cell production and numerous other health problems.
There are a number of variables that lead to an increased likelihood for iron deficiency. Due to the natural differences in the human body, women have a much greater chance than men of being iron deficient. The bodies of pregnant women, or women who’ve recently given birth, are usually low in iron as it’s gone to the development of the baby. The loss of blood during menopause also puts women at greater risk for iron deficiency.
Infants and young children are the second most likely group to be iron deficient. Unlike adult women, the bodies of babies and children aren’t losing iron. Instead, iron deficiency in children is almost always a result of dietary intake. Other people with increased risk for iron deficiency include endurance athletes, frequent users of certain medications and individuals with certain medical conditions. In some cases, just changing one’s diet to include more iron-rich foods can prevent iron deficiency. When dietary changes aren’t enough, iron supplements may become necessary.
Iron supplements exist in chewable and liquid forms which can be found over the counter at pharmacies. Companies specializing in nutritional and pharmaceutical products will offer a broad range of iron supplements. Tablet and capsule forms of iron must be broken down through digestion before the iron can be absorbed by the body. Liquid forms can be readily absorbed into the body and as such usually recommend lower dosages. Both chewable tablets and liquid iron supplements are effective at adding iron back into a diet.
For people experiencing iron deficiency, it’s important to make dietary changes that include iron. Individuals who are at increased risks for iron deficiency should consider taking supplements. For children, a healthy and well-balanced diet is usually all that’s needed. If children are eating right and still experience iron deficiency, it’s important to consult with a doctor before giving them supplements. Maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle is dependent on many factors, not the least of which is dietary iron.