Your body seeks assistance from vitamins and minerals every single day to support its normal functioning. There are over 13 essential vitamins that team together to make this happen.
One of the most widely known minerals is iron. Iron is incredibly important for the normal functioning of your body and contributes to some pretty complex processes. We’re here to take you through the power of iron supplements and why some people choose to take them.
What Is Iron?
To begin, let’s start with the basics. Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs for several reasons. It is most commonly known for contributing towards your energy and assisting with the haemoglobin process. For most people, iron can be obtained through a varied diet.
Why Do People Take Iron Supplements?
There are many reasons as to why people choose to take iron tablets. Whether under doctors recommendations due to low iron levels or to assist with a plant based diet, the possibilities are endless.
While the reason for taking supplements will vary between individuals, the purpose behind doing so remains the same. Low iron levels can affect a series of important processes that take place in your body. When your iron levels are sufficient, your body can:
- Metabolise drugs.
- Fight against tiredness.
- Ensure the normal activity of the heart, liver and muscles (EFSA, 2010).
How Much Iron Do I Need?
Current NHS guidelines state that iron intakes vary depending on the group you fall in. For example:
- Men over 18 require 8.7mg a day
- Women aged 19 to 50 require 14.8mg a day
- Women over 50 require 8.7mg a day
One of the main reasons as to why women aged between 19 and 50 require extra iron is due to menstruation. If you have particularly heavy periods, you may be advised to take iron supplements to increase your iron intake. A lot of iron will be lost through a heavy period.
Do You Need Iron Supplements?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to “do you need iron supplements?”. Instead, the answer will entirely depend on your diet, lifestyle choices, gender, age and existing conditions.
If you feel as though your diet isn’t supporting your iron requirements, do not hesitate to visit a doctor before making a decision on supplements. They will likely run some blood tests to see what your exact situation is. This will help to rule out the possibility of any other issues that might be contributing to your low iron levels.
Great Sources Of Iron
Iron supplements aren’t the only way to increase your iron intake. As stated previously, a balanced diet should be more than satisfactory for enough people. This is particularly true for meat eaters, as haem iron (which is most easily absorbed by the body) can be found in a lot of meat products.
Haem and non-haem sources of iron include:
- Red meat
- Dried fruit
- Fortified foods (including cereals)
To reiterate, there are several reasons as to why someone might take iron supplements. To see if you are suitable, it is highly recommended to visit a health professional before making any assumptions.