Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in the world, affecting up to 2 billion people. Children, premenopausal women, the elderly, individuals who consume a plant-based diet and populations of low and middle-income countries are more likely to experience insufficient iron intake.
An estimated 15-35% of female athletes and 5-11% male athletes are iron deficient. Up to 50 percent of pregnant women around the globe experience anemia due to inadequate intake of iron, vitamin B12, and/or folate. Are you someone who has depleted iron stores? A lack of iron may affect you more than you realize!
Iron is Essential for Function
Iron is an essential mineral that is required for oxygen delivery to cells. It is stored in red blood cells, bone marrow, spleen, liver, and muscles. About 70 percent of iron is found within the hemoglobin of red blood cells.
Iron is critical for your survival and optimal function. Sufficient iron stores is a requirement for mitochondrial function, enzyme and cell signaling activities, transport and building proteins, organ function, immune system function, neurotransmitter activation, and tissue repair that affects your entire body. Adequate iron stores are especially important for cardiac and kidney function changes that occur with age and decline.
Insufficient iron stores, or iron deficiency, stresses normal physiology and makes it harder to manage existing health concerns. Iron deficiency contributes to a decline in your health and decline in physical and mental stamina. It affects your capacity to exercise, mentally focus, concentrate, and contributes to irritability, a depressed mood, anxious feelings, memory changes, and much more.
Brain Function for All Ages
Starting during pregnancy, optimal iron levels are essential for brain and nerve health. Severe iron deficiency during pregnancy can lead to neurological deficits that may chronically affect the child. Infants and young children need iron, otherwise their growth and development suffers. Iron adequacy affects learning and cognitive skills, socio-emotional skills, coordination, balance, and movement.
Iron is necessary for dopamine production, which helps concentration and focus. Iron status for all ages also greatly affects the function of other neurotransmitters such as serotonin, glutamate, GABA, and epinephrine, their receptors and gene signals. Iron is also essential for the function of the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain.
Iron is required to produce the myelin sheath, the fatty insulation layer around nerves. This affects the speed at which nerve signals travel to and from the brain. Iron is also needed for hearing and reaction times related to sight and sound.