Principal Proposed Uses
- Correction of Iron Deficiency
- Sports Performance Enhancement
The element iron is essential to human life. As part of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells, iron plays an integral role in nourishing every cell in the body with oxygen. It also functions as a part of myoglobin, which helps muscle cells store oxygen. Without iron, your body could not make ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the body's primary energy source), produce DNA, or carry out many other critical processes.
Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, learning disabilities, impaired immune function, fatigue, and depression. However, you shouldn't take iron supplements unless lab tests show that you are genuinely deficient.
The official US recommendations for daily intake of iron are as follows:
- 0-6 months: 0.27 mg
- 7-12 months: 11 mg
- 1-3 years: 7 mg
- 4-8 years: 10 mg
- 9-13 years: 8 mg
- 14-18 years: 11 mg
- 19 years and older: 8 mg
- 9-13 years: 8 mg
- 14-18 years: 15 mg
- 19-50 years: 18 mg
- 50 years and older: 8 mg
- Pregnant Women :27 mg
- Nursing Women : 9 mg (10 mg if 18 years old or younger)
There are two major forms of iron: heme iron and nonheme iron. Heme iron is bound to the proteins hemoglobin or myoglobin, whereas nonheme iron is an inorganic compound. (In chemistry, "organic" has a very precise meaning that has nothing to do with farming. An organic compound contains carbon atoms. Thus "inorganic iron" is an iron compound containing no carbon.) Heme iron, obtained from red meats and fish, is easily absorbed by the body. Nonheme iron, usually derived from plants, is less easily absorbed.
The typical short-term therapeutic dosage to correct iron deficiency is 100 to 200 mg daily. Once your body's iron stores reach normal levels, however, this dose should be reduced to the lowest level that can maintain iron balance.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Iron?
Iron supplements commonly cause gastrointestinal upset, but, when taken at recommended dosages, serious adverse consequences are unlikely. However, excessive dosages of iron can be toxic—damaging the intestines and liver, and possibly resulting in death. Iron poisoning in children is a surprisingly common problem, so make sure to keep your iron supplements out of their reach.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Antibiotics in the tetracycline or quinolone ( Floxin , Cipro ) families; levodopa ; methyldopa ; carbidopa ; penicillamine ; thyroid hormone ; calcium ; soy ; zinc ; copper ; or manganese : To avoid absorption problems, wait at least 2 hours following your dose of medication or supplement before taking iron.
- Drugs that reduce stomach acid such as antacids , H 2 blockers , and proton pump inhibitors : You may need extra iron.
- High doses of vitamin C : You may absorb too much iron.
- ACE inhibitors : Iron may reduce coughing side effect; however, to avoid absorption problems, you should wait at least 2 hours following your dose of medication before taking iron.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -