World Iron deficiency day: It’s all elemental! Iron /oxygen and all!!

Updated: Jul 26

World Iron deficiency day: It’s all elemental! Iron /oxygen and all!!


The 26th November is observed as the Iron deficiency day world over with the purpose of understanding the importance of Iron deficiency. Anaemia is identified to be common consequence of this malady .The common terminology used is IDA which means iron deficiency anemia. Let us try and understand how one can deal with it in here a simple health note written to help you understand and benefit to maintain your health.


What is iron? What is its role in our body?


Iron is an essential mineral and has a pivotal role in many enzymatic and biochemical processes in the body. Over 52 such functions are attributed to iron but commonest ones are transportation and storage of oxygen. It also has many more functions in the body to perform such as regulating metabolism and how we will see.


What is anemia?


Anaemia is reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the blood which is determined by estimating the hemoglobin level and if found to be less than 12 g/dl is considered to be anemia. Hemoglobin level actually tells us the performance level of the blood in transporting oxygen.


What is oxygen?


Another element when turned into the molecule is an inert gas called the vital air , the air of life etc as it is essential for the survival as all cellular functions governed by the mitochondria are dependent on oxygen .


How are iron, anemia and oxygen connected?


Iron is essential for the production of the heme component of the hemoglobin a special protein with oxygen affinity .Iron helps in the production of heme and heme and protein combine to form hemoglobin which binds to the oxygen. This hemoglobin is present on the red blood cells (erythrocytes) Oxygen as a result of breathing enters into the lungs and is transported through the capillary network to be delivered to all the parts of the body by sticking on to hemoglobin .If hemoglobin is low as a consequence of iron deficiency anemia the oxygen carrying capacity is reduced leading to anemia.


How is the OXYGEN stored?


Iron is responsible for oxygen storage by an iron containing protein the myoglobin which stores and transports oxygen within muscle .It makes oxygen available when necessary to meet the increased metabolic needs during muscle contraction.


How does iron help in optimizing metabolic functions?


The most vital function of iron is to help in conversion of blood sugar to energy .This definitely helps in prediabetic , obese, overweight individuals as the need of energy spending is brought about by exercising which needs glucose and one also needs adequate iron for this conversion . Iron brings about hemoglobin production and consequently transport of oxygen which helps reduce tiredness, fatigue and weakness.


The body is constantly undergoing wear and tear where new cells are formed while the older ones are destroyed. This as well as many other bodily mechanisms is influenced by amino acids, hormones and neurotransmitter is dependent on iron. Iron is thus necessary to optimize ones productiveness qualitatively as well as quantitatively be it physical or mental work. Thus form a super active athlete to a super sedentary official, iron is necessary for optimal performance.


How does iron help in immunity?


Iron helps in cell production as well as supplying oxygen for better immune response. Additionally absence of iron as well as oxygen leads to oxidative stress which can challenge the immunity.


What is the role of iron in neurological functions?


Cognition and IQ is proved to be influenced by iron deficiency. In children born to anemic mothers especially IDA neuronal myelination is known to be deficient leading to congnitived disturbance, behavioral abnormalities and reduced memory.


Does iron affect the skin and hair?


Iron is proved to influence the enzyme systems and the processes involved in the formation of elastin and collagen which are known to maintain the skin turger .Prevention of hair loss , nail strength can be achieved by maintaining good iron levels in the body .It also helps in avoiding skin diseases and wrinkling .


Do we always take supplements of iron? Is it necessary or healthy diet is sufficient?


A balanced diet with all the components in the right proportions taken on time and in the absence of any digestive abnormalities suffices to maintain good iron levels. But if this is not the case then you may have to maintain it through supplements.


What are the courses of iron that need to be included in the diet to ensure good iron?


Red meat, green leafy vegetables, nuts, millets, figs, jaggery, dates are identified to be good sources of iron. If dietary intake is inadequate it’s a good practice to take supplements.


Remember iron is essential element and our body does not produce it. Additionally there is also through menstruation, defecation, urination, sweat and dead skin cells which are shed. Iron deficiency is the commonest deficiency in the world and more so in India.