IRON IN THE BODY
ABOUT TOO LITTLE IRON
Iron deficiency with and without anemia are a key focus areas for Iron Disorders Institute.
How Much Iron is in the Body?
Males of average height have about 4 grams of iron in their body, females about 3.5 grams; children will usually have 3 grams or less. These 3-4 grams are distributed throughout the body in hemoglobin, tissues, muscles, bone marrow, blood proteins, enzymes, ferritin, hemosiderin, and transport in plasma.
The greatest portion of iron in humans is in hemoglobin. Except in cases of great blood loss, pregnancy, or growth spurts, where larger amounts of iron are required, our bodies only need about 1 to 1.5 milligrams of iron per day to replace what is lost. Normal daily loss of iron excreted through urine, vaginal fluid, sweat, feces, and tears total about 1-1.5 milligrams, or the equivalent of what most of us require per day to function normally.
Nature provides for these periods of increased iron needs by stepping up the amount of iron that is absorbed. This very
elaborate regularly system can be observed in females who are menstruating, who will naturally increase the 1.5 milligrams that she usually absorbs up to 3-3.5 milligrams to replenish her iron stores.
An unborn child in the third trimester and right before birth gets a tremendous amount of iron from the mother. This vast store of iron is in preparation for a spectacular period of rapid growth and will assure adequate iron is available for the first six months of life. For this reason newborns and infants have exceedingly high serum ferritin and transferrin-iron saturation percentage (TS%.)
Too little iron or too much iron changes the way we grow, develop and function.
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