Definition of "Iron deficiency"

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Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.

  • Iron is present in all cells in the human body and has several vital functions, including carrying oxygen to the tissues from the lungs as a key component of the hemoglobin protein, acting as a transport medium for electrons within the cells in the form of cytochromes, facilitating oxygen use and storage in the muscles as a component of myoglobin and as an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues
  • Too little iron can interfere with these vital functions and lead to morbidity and death
  • Total body iron averages approximately 3.8g in men, and 2.3g in women
  • In blood plasma, iron is carried tightly bound to the protein transferrin
  • There are several mechanisms that control human iron metabolism and safeguard against iron deficiency. The main regulatory mechanism is situated in the GI tract
  • When loss of iron is not sufficiently compensated by adequate intake of iron from the diet, a state of iron deficiency develops over time. When this state is uncorrected, it leads to iron deficiency anemia
  • Before anemia develops, a condition of iron deficiency without anemia is called latent iron deficiency
  • Anemia involves inadequate RBC’s or hemoglobin
  • Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body lacks sufficient amounts of iron, resulting in reduced production of the protein hemoglobin. Hemoglobin binds to oxygen, thus enabling RBC’s to supply oxygenated blood throughout the body. Children, pre-menopausal women (women of child-bearing age) and people with poor diet are most susceptible to the disease. Most cases of iron deficiency anemia are mild, but if not treated can cause problems like fast or irregular heartbeat, complications during pregnancy, and delayed growth in infants and children
  • Untreated iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia, a common type of anemia
  • Mild iron deficiency can be prevented or corrected by eating iron-rich foods and by cooking in an iron skillet
  • Because iron is a requirement for most plants and animals, a wide range of foods provide iron. Good sources of dietary iron have heme-iron as this is most easily absorbed and is not inhibited by drugs or other dietary components. 3 examples are red meat, poultry and insects. Non-heme sources do contain iron, though it has reduced bioavailability. Examples are lentils, beans, leafy vegetables, pistachios, tofu, fortified bread, and fortified breakfast cereals
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Definition of Iron deficiency | Autoprac

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