encyclopedia

Iron

Natural Sources:
Meats, dried fruits, cooked dried beans and peas, dark green leafy herbs and vegetables, prune juice and other foods are excellent sources of iron.

Forms:
Standardized iron (ferrous gluconate) liquid supplements and tablets; multivitamins containing iron.

Therapeutic Uses:
Anemia

Atherosclerosis

Athletic Endurance

Bone Health

Brain and Mental Functioning

Breathing Disorders

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Circulatory Health

Colds, Flues and Sore Throat

Crankiness (infants)

Depression

Dry, brittle hair

Dry Skin

Dysmennorhoea

Energy Loss

Fatigue

Fidgety Leg Syndrome

Fragile Bones

Growth Impairment

Hair Loss

Headache

Heart Health Maintenance

High Cholesterol

Immune System Health

Irregular Heart Beat

Irritability

Lethargy

Mental Confusion

Mineral Deficiency (RDA=4mg/day)

Mood Swings and Disorders

Mouth Inflammation

Muscular Fatigue and Weakness

Nervous System Health

Obesity

Pallor

PMS

Respiratory Disorders

Sleeping Difficulties (infants)

Swallowing Difficulties

Vascular Disorders

Overview:

Iron is a silvery white metal that is the fourth most abundant element on earth (said to be 34.6% by mass) following oxygen, silicon and aluminum. The chemical symbol for iron is Fe, which comes from the Latin word “ferrum”. Iron is an essential constituent of all human and animal systems, being necessary for haemoglobin formation and for the oxidative processes of living tissues. Iron is needed for the transportation of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Without adequate iron intake from the diet, a person can suffer from mild, chronic ‘suffocation’ or hypoxia (low oxygen). Iron is also a component of several enzymes, strengthens the immune system and increases the body’s endurance capacity. The body contains about 4 grams of iron, mostly complexed as a part of haemoglobin. In healthy men and non-menstruating women, the requirement for iron is about 1milligram daily. About 1.5 to 2 milligrams are needed daily by menstruating women. Children and adolescents have a proportionately greater need for iron because of growth and can become very cranky without enough. Iron deficiency is still considered the most common deficiency in the industrialized Western world with estimates of up to 26% of the population falling into this category. The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded in their March 1997 issue that: “Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are still relatively common in toddlers, adolescent girls and women of childbearing age”. Iron deficiency, which leads to low blood oxygen levels, low energy, poor mood and difficulty in concentrating (and sleeping for some, especially infants), can be very quickly and safely reversed by taking a liquid iron gluconate supplement. Liquid iron gluconate has been proven by studies in Italy to have the highest absorption rate compared with other iron sources and doesn’t cause digestive upset or constipation.

Chemistry:
There are several different forms of iron whose absorption rates vary from between 0.5% to 25%. Liquid ferrous gluconate has the highest absorption rate of iron (17-25%), and is easily assimilated by the body. Iron in the form of a solid tablet has to be broken down before it can be absorbed, thus the absorption rate is lower when compared with a liquid supplement. Ferrous forms of iron are said to be superior to the ferric forms.

Suggested Amount:
The Recommended Daily Allowance for iron ranges between 6-30mg daily depending upon age and other factors. Infants from 0 to 6 months require 6mg daily and between 6 months to 10 years old require 10 mg daily. Young adults between the ages 11-8 years require 12 mg daily and women between the ages of 11 and 50 require 15mg daily. For men over 19 and women over 51, the requirement is 10 mg daily. It is recommended that pregnant women get 30 mg daily, and lactating women get 15mg daily.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
Iron supplements are contraindicated in persons suffering from an infection. Bacteria and other pathogens often require iron to grow and therefore iron supplements may worsen an infection. Iron can be fatal to children if taken in an overdose. Keep all iron supplement products safely out of reach of children.

Side Effects:
Many types of iron supplements produce the side effect of causing constipation, however, there are no known side effects for taking liquid iron gluconate supplements at the recommended dosages. Excessive intake of iron from supplements of any type may cause nausea, constipation and gastrointestinal problems including ulcers (generally from sources other than iron gluconate). Excessive iron (greater than 30mg daily) may also cause diarrhea in susceptible persons. Chronic overdoses of iron, as seen from the diseases hemosiderosis and hemochromatosis (hereditary disorders of iron metabolism), cause hyperpigmentation of the skin, increased free radical production, increased requirement for vitamin E, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

References:

Bruner, AB, Joffe, A., Duggan, AK, Casella, JF, and J. Brandt 1996. Randomized study of cognitive effects of iron supplementation in non-anemic, iron-deficient adolescent girls. The Lancet 348: 992-996.

Carper, J. 1993. Food, Your Miracle Medicine: How Food Can Prevent and Cure Over 100 Symptoms and Problems. Based on more than 10,000 scientific studies. Published by Harper Collins Publ., Inc., 10 East 53rd Street, NY. Pp. 279; 405.

Casparis, D, Del Carlo, P., Branconi, F., Grossi, A., Merante, D and L. Gafforio 1996. Effectiveness and tolerance of oral doses of liquid ferrous gluconate in iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy and in the immediate post-natal period: comparison with other liquid or solid formulations containing bivalent or trivalent iron. Minerva Ginecol. 48; 511-518. (Italian with English abstract)

Ghent WR, Eskin BA, Low D.A., Lucius PH 1993. Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Canadian J. of Surgery. 36:453-460.

Reynalds JEF, Martindale; The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th Edition. The Universally Acclaimed Source of Drug Information. The Pharmaceutical Press; 1993.

Additional Information:

Cofactors Needed for Forming Hemoglobin and Red Blood Cells

A number of essential nutrients must be given together with iron for proper hemoglobin formation and to increase red blood cell production. Cofactors needed for optimal red blood cell health include folic acid, other B vitamins, particularly vitamins B12 and B6 and zinc. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is essential for formation of hemoglobin and for absorption of Vitamin B12. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects folate from oxidation by free radicals and also significantly increases iron absorption. Additionally, according to Phyllis Johnson, Ph.D. of the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Centre in Grand Forks, North Dakota, women also 0.65880uwneed to maintain adequate dietary levels of manganese to avoid anemia. A study of fifteen young women who were on low-manganese diets for five and a half months showed that the women’s menstrual flow increased in volume by about 50 percent. They ate a mere milligram of manganese daily, about half the national average. The increased blood loss also swept away between 50 and 100 percent more iron, copper, zinc and manganese. Studies confirm that the Floradix Iron & Herbs brand of iron supplement containing all of these cofactors in a liquid form actually does significantly increase the body’s production of hemoglobin and red blood cells.

Iron Deficiency Common (Reprinted from Flora Herbal Research Report 1-4):

Did you know that iron is one of the most commonly deficient nutrients from our diets? In fact, it is now considered the most wide-spread deficiency disease in the industrialized Western world. Reports indicate that 26% of the population suffers from iron deficiency.

A recent clinical study in Sweden revealed that a prevalence of iron deficiency exists amongst teenagers. Poor dietary habits, growth requirements, and the menstrual loss in females were cited as reasons for this common occurrence.

In a 1990 screening of infants 6 to 12 months old in U.S. public health programs, approximately 216,000 were at risk of developing anemia because of low hemoglobin counts, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The anemia was apparently due to lack of iron in the infants’ diets. Iron deficiency anemia can not only cause health problems, but can lead to reduced IQ scores five years later.

In another study, completed at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center in Camden, 800 pregnant women ranging in age from 14 to 29 were monitored to determine how iron deficiency might affect their pregnancies and infants. The New Jersey team reported that the women diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia had less energy and consumed less iron in their diets than the women who were not anemic. In addition, the anemic women were three times as likely to deliver prematurely than women who did not have iron deficiency anemia.

Many athletes suffer from anemia (iron loss) due to the cardiovascular demands of their sport. Physically active people also lose iron through their skin pores as they sweat. It has been shown during workouts that iron levels in the body decrease. It is vitally important that these iron levels are replenished to maintain energy levels and good health. Strict vegetarians may also be susceptible to iron deficiency and especially B12 due to limited food sources.

Iron is present in every living cell and combines with copper and protein to make hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body. Iron increases resistance to disease and stress and when we have iron rich blood we experience a greater sense of well being.

If you suffer from fatigue, lack energy, have pale skin or dark circles under the eyes, perhaps you’re not getting enough iron and need to supplement. However, most of the available iron supplements are hard to absorb and cause constipation. According to Dr. Karen Jensen, N.D., “one of the most effective iron supplements that I have seen on the market today is Floradix Iron & Herbs, a delicious tasting liquid tonic made in Germany for over 50 years. There are several different forms of iron whose absorption rates vary from 0.5% to 25%. Also, iron in the form of a solid tablet has to be broken down before it can be absorbed, thus the absorption rate is lower. Floradix contains ferrous gluconate and special iron-fed yeast. Floravital contains ferrous gluconate but the formula is yeast-free. The organic iron combinations contained in these two products have the highest absorption rate of iron (17-25%), and are easily assimilated by the body.” Floradix Iron & Herbs and yeast-free Floravital offer nutrients and herbs for increased energy, stamina and optimum health and are available at finer health food stores or through your local holistic practitioner.

More Than Iron Needed for Treating Dysmenorrhea:

Dysmenorrhea (a term which encompasses any problem with menstruation) is common to many women – especially athletes – and can be caused by a few dietary gaps which I will discuss in more detail below including: 1) a lack of phytoestrogens (plant-type estrogens) in the diet and 2) an iodine deficiency.

Phytoestrogens, otherwise known as plant-type estrogens, have the ability to bind to estrogen cell receptors within the body and prevent the body from over-producing estradiol. In this way, these beneficial and powerful antioxidants help the body to maintain proper hormone levels. Phytoestrogens can be obtained by including soy in the daily menu as tofu, soy milk, miso or tempeh or eating other legumes such as black beans, lentils and peanuts or drinking tonics with red clover such as the Flor-Essence Herbal Tea Blend. Flax seed also contains a very beneficial phytoestrogen, along with omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Iodine, which also helps the body to balance estrogen and progesterone levels, can be obtained from a weekly or biweekly serving of kelp or by drinking tonics with kelp such as the Flor-Essence and Floradix Iron. Iodine is an essential element required by two thyroid hormones at levels of at least 1-2mg per week. Iodine regulates cellular metabolism and thus also boosts energy and helps people to lose weight. Research on over 1,365 women has shown that 3mg of molecular iodine per day can resolve cyclical breast lumps and cysts (also known as fibrocystic breast disease – which indicates an increased risk for breast cancer) usually within two to three months and may be an important element for helping to prevent breast cancer. Iodine is said to reduce the sensitivity of estrogen cell receptors. Estrogen receptors are found concentrated in most sex-linked organs and tissues of the body including of the breast, uterus and ovaries in women and of the prostate and testes in men, but they are also found in bone and other tissues. In this way, iodine, similar to the action of phytoestrogens, helps the body to prevent the over-production of estradiol. Researchers have recently concluded that many people may be suffering from a relative deficiency of iodine. Perhaps the prevalence of iodine deficiency in the industrialized world increased after a clear link between a high salt diet (the main dietary source of iodine in our culture) and high blood pressure was established. The ‘salt scare’, which involved many national news releases to get out this important information, unfortunately failed to properly address the need for people to find alternative sources of iodine if they were now to stop using salt. To add to the confusion, too much iodine in the diet for a prolonged time can also lead to problems, such as hyperthyroidism; but this does not easily occur from natural dietary sources of iodine unless they are eaten in very excessive amounts. Different cultures around the world that utilize 15 or more grams of kelp per day do not suffer from hyperthyroidism.

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