How to avoid iron deficiency in the body
A reduced iron content in the body requires special attention and correction, since over time it can lead to the development of iron deficiency anemia (anemia). This is a multi-stage serious disease, the cause of which is an imbalance in the direction of the predominance of the expenditure of iron over its intake. It is observed in various physiological conditions or diseases (various blood loss, impaired absorption of iron, insufficient intake of iron from food, increased demand in pregnant women and children, etc.). The main causes of iron deficiency are blood loss and the lack of this most important macronutrient in food.
The role of iron in the body
The role of iron in the body is very extensive:
-ono is part of hemoglobin, a protein necessary for the transfer of oxygen by red blood cells (red blood cells) to tissues (gives off oxygen and takes carbon dioxide);
– is part of many enzymes and hormones involved in digestion and energy metabolism;
-Participates in the creation and conduct of nerve impulses along nerve fibers;
-Participates in the formation of cells of the immune system.
A large half of the iron entering the body (almost 60%) is spent on hemoglobin synthesis. A certain amount (approximately 20%) is deposited in the muscles, bone marrow, liver and spleen (depot) in the form of a reserve ferritin protein. Another 20% of iron is used for the synthesis of various enzymes. In pregnant and lactating women, part of the iron is transferred to the child for the full formation of the brain and bone marrow. During illness (even the common cold), iron consumption increases, as it is necessary for the synthesis of immune cells.
Iron deficiency and vegetarianism
The notion that vegetarianism inevitably leads to iron deficiency is fairly widespread. However, the problem of iron deficiency is far from always associated with the absence of animal products in the diet. Numerous studies show that the incidence of iron deficiency anemia among vegetarians is similar to the incidence among non-vegetarians. And despite the fact that vegetarians have a lower serum iron level than non-vegetarians, their ferritin levels are usually normal. Of course, plant foods contain less iron than animal foods. In addition, iron in the vegetarian diet is absorbed worse – at a rate of 10% compared to 18% and higher in the non-vegetarian diet, and for the vegan diet there may be about 5% in general. These figures suggest that the preparation of a full vegan diet should be competent, it should have a sufficient amount of protein, vitamin B12 and iron, and for this you may need an additional intake of food additives.
Monitoring a sufficient amount of iron in a vegetarian diet requires special attention, since the presence of this macroelement in many plant foods dulls vigilance, so not all vegetarians pay due attention to the problem of its lack in time and do not control their blood counts (primarily ferritin, transferrin, serum iron ) It is necessary in a timely manner, if necessary, to start taking iron-containing preparations and food additives (ferroplex, tardiferon, erifer, etc.)
Vegetarians need to take about 1.8 times more iron than non-vegetarians. In Western countries, vegan-oriented foods are often fortified with iron. It is known that the body of vegetarians adapts to the diet and more effectively holds the available reserves of iron.
It is useful for vegetarians to pay attention to the fact that during cooking in iron and cast-iron dishes, the iron content in food increases by 1.2-21 times. At the same time, the iron content increases more strongly in sauces or food prepared in a sauce (for example, chili). Those who are lacking in iron are even offered to put special figures made of cast iron in the dishes where food is prepared.
Sources of Iron
Iron enters the human body with food. Liver and meat, to a lesser extent eggs, legumes, pumpkin and sesame seeds, whole grain cereals, as well as some types of greens – thyme, parsley, spinach, etc. are richest with them. From vegetable sources, pears, apples, pomegranates, raisins, dried apricots, corn, buckwheat, millet. Soy foods are particularly rich in iron.
Iron in the diet is divided into heme (from meat and other animal sources) and non-heme (from plant foods). In heme-containing proteins, iron is part of a heme – a specific heterocyclic complex that can reversibly bind oxygen. In non-heme iron-containing proteins, iron binds directly to the protein. Such proteins include transferrin (carries out iron transport in the body), ferritin (a reserve iron-containing protein in the body’s depot) and a number of oxidative enzymes. Hemic iron is absorbed most efficiently (from 15 to 35%). Numerous factors influence the assimilation of non-heme iron (even in animal food of about 60%).