Iron is an essential element for human beings and is vital for the production of red blood cells. Haemoglobin present in the red blood cells transports oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Periods of rapid growth, blood loss due to menstruation or loss in the intestinal tract, less iron in the diet, poor iron absorption and poverty are the main reasons for the iron deficiency.

Healthy persons absorb about 5 to 10% of dietary iron and the iron deficient absorbs about 10 to 20%. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. Oxalates, phytates and tannins from the vegetables decrease the absorption of iron. Therefore, iron is poorly absorbed from wheat germ, lima beans, spinach and beet greens.

Iron absorption from carrots, potatoes, beet roots, pumpkin, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and turnips are good because these vegetables contain substantial amount of malic, citric or ascorbic acids which can help iron absorption. Iron absorption is enhanced by inclusion of red meat, poultry, fish and eggs.

Too much of calcium inhibits the absorption of iron so that calcium supplement should be taken in between two meals. Meals that include principally pizza, hamburger, spaghetti and cheese result in poor iron absorption.

An estimated 40% of world’s population, mainly women are the sufferers of iron deficiency. Environmental illness can cause iron deficiency. In India where hookworm disease is prevalent and vegetarianism is mandated by religion, iron deficiency is very common. Keep always in mind that too much of iron from the tablets deposited in the organs is more dangerous than light deficiency.

What is the reason that one should not take iron tablets for long time? Excess iron which could not be used for the production of red blood cells will be deposited in the heart and other organs. Our body temperature and enough water make it to rust there. In this process uncontrolled amounts of free radicals are formed by the Fenton’s reaction. Free radicals are necessary to fight and kill the bacteria and virus but too much of them destroy body’s healthy cells, thus the organs.

Iron is a poisonous metal and the iron tablets should be kept away from the reach of the children. Excess can harm the health of the children.