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  • Writer's pictureAgnes Plantalech

HOW CAN WE IMPROVE IRON ABSORPTION?

Iron is a key mineral for the functioning of the body, a deficiency can give serious health problems


Iron (Fe) is a trace element that is present in nature. Our body needs this mineral to survive as it performs one of the most important functions in the body, transporting and storing oxygen in tissues. It also collaborates in other functions such as electron transport, energy metabolism, antioxidant functions, DNA synthesis and regulating intracellular iron, among others.


Iron absorption takes place largely in the small intestine. Saints absorb between 5 and 20% of the food provided by the diet.

In general, iron is continuously reused from the blood to the bone marrow where it is incorporated into hemoglobin to perform oxygen transport. Throughout this process of reuse, a pat of this mineral is getting lost for feces, sweat, urine and women in menstruation.


The availability of iron varies depending on whether the food containing it is of animal or vegetable origin. This iron is classified in two different ways


  • Heme iron: is what is part of animal hemoglobin or myoglobin (liver, red meat, poultry and fish). Its absorption is 10 to 20%.

  • Non-heme iron: we find it in foods of plant origin, 90% of total iron. It has an absorption of 1 to 10%, much lower than that of heme iron. Non-heme iron must be reduced from the ferric form to ferrous to be absorbed with the help of an acidic medium.



The absorption of non-heme (vegetable) iron is directly influenced by enhancers or inhibitors that are present in the same meal or food that contains iron.


Foods with tannins or phytates (tea, coffee, chocolate and bran fibers, among others), prevent a good absorption of this mineral. On the other hand, foods rich in vitamin C (e.g. citrus fruits) help in the absorption of the mineral.


Calcium from the diet or in supplementation, inhibits the absorption of both heme and non-heme iron, for this reason it is recommended to consume foods rich in these minerals with an interval of two hours apart.

 

# iron, # mineral, # absorption, # citrus, # calcium

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