Iron, effects of deficiency and excess

Iron, effects of deficiency and excess

Iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia affects many people around the world, with a higher incidence in developing countries.

It occurs mainly in some categories of people: children under the age of two, women of childbearing age, pregnant women, especially female adolescents.

Excess iron, on the other hand, is less known and less common. Let's see what are the effects of iron deficiency and excess.


Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency is very common in moles children under the age of twoi because the iron introduced in the diet is often not sufficient to satisfy the demand due to the rapid growth that occurs in the first 24 months of life.

For similar reasons, iron deficiency is also common among children teenagers, with a higher prevalence in females due to the loss due to the menstrual cycle. The presence of menstruation is one of the main reasons why iron deficiency is more common in women than in men.

Le pregnant and breastfeeding women other categories are particularly exposed to iron deficiency, in the first case because there is a loss of iron in the mother to the benefit of the fetus and in the second case simply because the need for iron increases and often the diet is not sufficient to satisfy it.

Do you know how to assimilate iron?


But what are the effects of iron deficiency?

Iron is very important for the transport of oxygen from the blood to all organs. For example, when a pregnant woman suffers from iron deficiency anemia and the hemoglobin values ​​fall below a certain threshold, poor oxygenation of the fetus can occur with all the effects and consequences that may ensue.

Many of the symptoms of iron deficiency are non-specific. Among the most common effects of iron deficiency are the fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Other common effects are paleness and very pale lips; hair loss can sometimes occur. Some people who have low iron show a characteristic urge to eat strange things, for example ice (pagophagy) or earth or paints (pica).

When iron is deficient, the immune system can become weaker and therefore more prone to infections.

Mild iron deficiency is generally not a concern, especially when it comes to a temporary situation. If the deficiency is chronic or in all cases where the doctor deems it appropriate, it is possible to resort to iron supplementation through supplements. In any case, it is possible to intervene on the diet to increase iron absorption.


Excess iron

Not only the deficiency but also the excess of iron can have negative effects on the body. Excess iron is a condition that rarely occurs before the age of forty and it mainly affects the male sex. Three common effects of excess iron are fatigue, irritability, and depressed mood. In women of childbearing age, the menstrual cycle can be altered, sometimes even absent.

Over time, the excess iron, which accumulates in the body, can have very serious consequences; in humans hypogonadism can occur, in both sexes excess iron can predispose to the onset of diabetes mellitus.

Chronic iron overloadin fact, it can involve a very serious condition called hemochromatosis which causes damage to organs and in particular to the heart, liver and pancreas. 


For vegetarians (and not only), here are 7 recipes to properly integrate iron in the diet


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