Iron, a trace mineral, supplies energy to every cell in the body. It is a key component of hemoglobin, the blood's oxygen-carrying pigment. Iron is also found in myoglobin, which supplies oxygen to muscles, and in compounds that keep the immune system strong. This mineral is critical to sharp mental functioning. Even slight deficiencies in iron can shorten attention span and make concentration difficult.
Normally, the body gets sufficient amounts of iron from the foods you
eat. It manages to self-regulate itself, storing amounts you will need
by automatically absorbing more iron when the need is high, and less
when levels are adequate. Nonetheless, iron deficiency
is still a significant public health problem. It can occur during
periods of rapid growth--infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy--which
increase the body's demand for this mineral. In addition, women who
menstruate heavily tend to have lower iron levels.
Supplements Iron Deficiency Anemia
A chronically iron-poor diet
or any condition characterized by prolonged bleeding (even of small
amounts), such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, and rectal polyps, can lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
Many people develop this type of anemia, for instance, as a consequence
of an NSAID-related ulcer, or one caused by months or years of
regularly taking aspirin, ibuprofen or another non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).