Iron is an important mineral. It is needed to help our red blood cells deliver oxygen to the rest of the body. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.

Did you know there are different kinds of iron? If you find yourself struggling with stomach discomfort due to traditional iron supplements, ask your doctor about switching to carbonyl iron; which may be gentler on the digestive system.

Iron is the only nutrient for which women have a higher daily requirement than men. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron for men is 10 milligrams for men and 15 milligrams for women.

Main Functions of Iron

  • Transport and storage of oxygen
  • Aid in energy production and cell diffusion
  • Helps the immune and central nervous systems
  • Low iron level
  • Low iron levels can cause people to develop iron deficiency anemia
    • When a person is anemic, their blood contains low levels of oxygen

Signs of iron-deficiency anemia

Some of the most common signs of are:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • fainting
  • susceptibility to infection, and
  • swelling of the tongue


Iron absorption refers to the amount of dietary iron that your body obtains from the food you eat. Healthy adults absorb about 15% of the iron in their diet.

The actual amount of iron your body absorbs depends on the amount of iron already stored in your body. When your body has low amounts of iron stored, it will absorb more iron from the foods you eat. When your body has a large amount of iron stored, the amount of iron it absorbs will decrease.

If the body absorbs too much iron, a condition called haemochromatosis will occur.

Sources of Iron

The main source of iron is red meat. Other sources of iron include: meats, some fish, beans, dried fruit, spinach. Iron can also be found in breakfast cereals fortified with iron.

Iron Supplements

The most common iron supplements are ferrous gluconate and ferrous sulfate. If you think you may need iron supplements, please consult your doctor. Consumption of too much iron can be dangerous, leading to liver or heart damage.

If you consume iron supplements and your iron levels do not increase, consider this:

  1. The form of iron may be cheap and poorly absorbed or used by the body.
  2. The dosage on the label may not match the actual dose in the pill.
  3. The iron pill may be filled with additives, colors, fillers, and allergens.
  4. The factory in which the iron was made may produce inconsistent quality pills.

Too Much Iron

It is possible to have too much iron in your body. Some people have a condition where they have too much iron in their blood. This condition is called haemochromatosis.

Haemochromatosis is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by an increase in iron absorption relative to body iron stores. Signs of haemochromatosis depend on the amount of iron in the body. Some of the common early symptoms are: lethargy and fatigue.

Why are you not getting enough iron?

There are several possible reasons why you are not getting enough iron in your diet. Common reasons are:

  1. Food choice
    • We evolved eating wild foods that contained significantly higher levels of all vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.
  2. Eroded topsoil has depleted our mineral supply.
    • The animals and vegetables we eat are hybridized, fed on a diet of depleted soils, often in industrial farmlots.
  3. Toxic environments
    • Environmental toxins, limited sunlight, and chronic stress leads to us to require higher levels of nutrients to sustain health.
  4. An abundance of junk food
    • Processed factory-made foods (chips, crackers, and most types of junk foods) have very little nutrients.