A lot of complex processes are taking place in your body right as we speak. From digestion to nutrient absorption, blood circulation to oxygen transport; every inch of your body is working hard to keep you healthy. But, what happens when there’s a missing part? How crucial are the consequences? When it comes to iron, the answer is that the consequences can be very crucial.

If you wish to know more about iron and how to give your body the right amount of the mineral, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will take you through all of the important information about iron.

What Is Iron?

Iron is an essential mineral that plays many important roles in the body - it is most widely known for being needed to make haemoglobin.

Iron can be found in every single cell in your body, and to get enough of it, you need to ensure you are consuming enough foods that are high in iron. You can also take iron tablets to further safeguard your intake.

What Does Iron Do For The Body?

Iron has a whole lot of roles to play in the body. As stated by the EFSA (2010), here is what it is most vital for in the body:

Iron is needed for the metabolism of drugs.
Iron will help you to fight against tiredness.
Iron affects the activity of the heart, liver and muscles.

As you can see, the role of iron is incredibly varied and yet undoubtedly important.

Great Sources Of Iron

With so many crucial roles to play, understanding how to get enough iron into your diet is key. Although supplements are available to those who require extra assistance, the easiest way to source iron is through the foods you eat.

There are two different types of iron in food: haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is found in animal foods and is more easily absorbed by the body. Non-haem iron, on the other hand, can be found in plant based foods. This is ideal for vegetarians and vegans, but the body cannot absorb non-haem iron as easily.

Good food sources of iron include:

Red meat
Fortified breakfast cereals

How Much Iron Do I Need?

According to the NHS’ guidance on iron intakes, the amount of iron your body needs is as follows:

Men Over 18: 8.7mg a day
Women Aged 19 to 50: 14.8mg a day
Women Over 50: 8.7mg a day

It’s also worth noting that women who experience heavy periods may need to increase their iron intake. This can be done through both diet and supplements.

Do You Need Iron Supplements?

The majority of people can get all of the iron they need through a balanced diet. However, you might be advised to take supplements if your iron intake is low (whether that be due to diet or other reasons), if you are pregnant, or if you experience heavy periods.