Iron Tablets – Who Needs Them?
There are approximately six million prescriptions for iron tablets being issued each year in England and Wales. This does not surprise me because iron is essential to life as it plays a key role in the manufacture of proteins and enzymes; is required for the formation of haemoglobin, which is the oxygen carrier within the body, and iron also regulates cell growth. Iron and life are inseparable! With the exception of lactic acid bacteria found in the gut, every living organism requires iron as an essential nutrient for growth and development.
Iron tablets for the majority are the first line of defence when we are feeling tired or fatigued. Iron tablets are often prescribed for a lack of energy however iron tablets are also prescribed for a host of other reasons including anaemia. The most common types of iron tablets prescribed are ferrous sulphate, ferrous fumarate and ferrous gluconate. There are of course many iron supplements available as tablets, liquids and tonics.
Iron’s health benefits
The body cannot manufacture iron and it is generally derived from the food we eat or by way of supplements. Iron is a key mineral which enables the body to perform its role of growth and development. Let’s discuss some of the healthy benefits of iron.
Iron is required for the manufacture of red blood cells, haemoglobin and myoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein found in blood which carries oxygen to all the parts of the body. Without oxygen, our cells would starve resulting in cell death.
Whilst haemoglobin is found in red blood cells, myoglobin, another protein, is found in muscle cells and ensure the release of oxygen within muscle tissues.
Almost 70% of iron within the body is found in haemoglobin and myoglobin. Approximately 25% of iron is found as ferritin and stored in the cells for release to the body in case of deficiencies.
Iron is vital for muscle function. It helps provide oxygen to the muscles required for the contraction of muscles.
Iron is vital for optimal brain function. The brain uses approximately 20% of blood’s oxygen and since iron through haemoglobin carries oxygen to the brain, a deficiency in iron will affect concentration and brain function.
Iron is a regulator of body temperature. This is very important because all the enzyme processes that occur within the body need to occur within a stable environment.
Iron is required for the treatment of anaemia. Anaemia occurs as a result of pregnancy or heavy loss of blood through menstruation. The lost iron and red blood cells needs to be replenished and therefore iron consumption will be of benefit.
These are just some of the processes that iron is required for. Since iron is involved in hundreds of enzyme reactions and functions, it does not come as a surprise that almost 15% of the world’s population are deficient in this vital mineral.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Iron can make a positive difference to your health both physically and mentally. I have listed some of the symptoms of iron deficiency.
Exhaustion – one of the most common symptoms, it is also one that is not always easy to detect purely because many of us lead frenetic lives and so we tend to be used to the feelings of being tired. Iron deficiency results in less oxygen being sent to the tissues and in turn this results in lower energy. If this lowered energy is accompanied with the feelings of weakness or an inability to focus then low iron levels may be the causal factor.
Heavy periods – this is the number one cause of iron deficiency in women. During menstruation, a lot of blood is lost and for some women only half of this is replaced before the next period.
Pale looking skin – haemoglobin found in red blood cells gives skin its rosy hue. This is easy to detect on a paler complexion however no matter what your skin tone, if the inside of your lips and gums look paler than normal this could be indicative of low iron.
Restless leg syndrome – one in six people with restless legs have an iron deficiency. If you suffer from this concern, try taking some iron and see if the symptoms are alleviated or go and have your iron levels checked.
Headaches – although your body prioritises getting oxygen to the brain, a deficiency in iron may result in frequent headaches simply because less oxygen will be delivered to the brain tissues.
Losing hair – it is perfectly normal to lose approximately 100 hair strands a day. Iron, together with several other nutrients, is required for the growth phase of hair termed the anagen phase. When you have not got sufficient iron through your diet, the body takes the iron from the hair bulb and provides it to essential tissues such as the heart.
Your body absorbs iron three times more efficiently from animal sources such as meat, poultry and this iron source is termed haem iron. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, careful meal planning will still provide you with sufficient iron.
An iron deficiency can slow down your thyroid function. The thyroid gland fuels every single cell within the body. If you have low energy levels, experience weight gain and have a lower body temperature, it might be prudent to get your iron levels checked.
A sore, inflamed and strangely smooth tongue may be indicative of iron deficiency.
These are just some of the symptoms of iron deficiency.
Recommended daily iron intakes
Men generally do not require iron. It is mostly recognised that men absorb iron efficiently from food sources with very little chance of iron loss unlike women who tend to lose iron cyclically during menstruation.
Women between the ages of 20 and 50 typically require 18 mg of iron on a daily basis. For pregnant women, this figure shifts upwards to 27 mg daily. If you are breastfeeding, the recommendation is just 9 mg daily. These are just general guidelines because differences in gut health, how heavy the blood loss is during menstruation and various other factors will influence the amount of iron actually required.
Why use Iron Daily Oral Spray?
Iron found in many supplements is inorganic in nature and is a hard mineral to metabolise. Many people who are prescribed iron tablets or buy over-the-counter iron pills and supplements often complain of side effects which include stomach pain, bloating, belching and/or constipation. Iron Daily Oral Sprays, available in two strengths, are sprayed into the inner cheek and by-pass the digestive system avoiding stomach pain and gastric distress.
Better You’s Iron Daily Oral Sprays provide a highly available form of iron. The fine mist of droplets are sprayed onto the inner cheek and due to the rich vein system, the iron is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream.
Iron Daily Oral Spray provides 5 mg of elemental iron per daily dose whilst Iron 10 Daily Oral Spray delivers 10mg of iron for those with greater needs. This superior delivery system does not overload iron within the body and helps quickly to support energy production.