How Much Iron Do You Need A Day?

Iron is an essential element for the body that helps fight many health issues. It preserves your body’s energy and focuses on vital body functions. But do you know how much iron you need a day?

Iron is a dietary mineral that mainly serves in the transportation of oxygen in the blood cells. Your immune system, body temperature regulation, and gastrointestinal processes are affected by iron as well.

How Much Iron Do You Need A Day
How Much Iron Do You Need A Day

Your body generally absorbs the stored amount of iron for daily activities. Sweat, Blood Loss, and Shedding intestinal cells are some significant causes of iron deficiency. There are about 1/3 of iron-deficient people around the world. Studies have shown, that menstruating women are at greater risk than postmenopausal women. 

Therefore, you need to intake certain foods that can reduce the risk of iron deficiency. An appropriate diet meal that includes good sources of iron-fortified foods can be a perfect solution in this case.

How Much Iron Do You Need A Day | High-Risk Groups

Just like other nutrients, iron is an essential element as well. Some healthy food like lean meat, white beans, beef, iron-fortified cereals, etc. is the best sources of iron. Several studies have shown that about 1 out of 8 people do not consume enough iron per day on average. And children aged two years or above are more likely to avoid iron absorption.

We gathered some information about the people who can have high chances of getting iron deficiencies. Here is a list of them, 

  • Infants 
  • Toddlers 
  • Menstruating Women 
  • Breastfeeding Women
  • Pregnant Women
  • Women Using IUD 
  • People Following Fad Diets
  • Regular Blood Donors
  • People Having Cancer, Heart Disease, Etc.

Losing more than enough iron a day is a leading cause of severe iron deficiency. It usually happens when the body fails to make healthy red blood cells. Some common causes of this health issue are drinking too much cow milk, avoiding iron-rich foods, infants not getting infant formula, etc.

Oftentimes, we think that we can only get iron in plants, but that’s not the case. We can find elemental iron from animals as well. Severe deficiencies of this element are a curse for us. It can lead one to have iron deficiency anemia. This anemia has specific side effects, including fatigue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and pale face.

How Much Iron Should You Take?

Our body absorbs minimal amounts of iron daily to stay fit. An adult may need around 1 milligram each day. Whereas a menstruating female needs around 1.5 milligrams of iron. But to keep in mind, the body doesn’t absorb the whole iron from the foods we eat. It only absorbs a fraction of it. Hence, we need to take more doses of iron throughout the day. 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) varies from people’s age to their health conditions. This includes a ratio of daily iron supplements and foods for our health needs. 

Here are the RDA categories that help to understand the amount of iron a person should take a day. 

  • Children:
    • 7-12 Months – 11mg/day
    • 1-3 Years – 7 mg/day
    • 4-8 Years – 10 mg/day
    • 9-13 Years – 8 mg/day
  • Females:
    • 14-18 Years – 15 mg/day
    • 19-50 Years – 18 mg/day
    • Pregnant – 27 mg/day
    • Breastfeeding (Under 19 Years) – 10 mg/day 
    • Breastfeeding (Above 19 Years) – 9 mg/day 
    • 51 Years and Over – 8 mg/day
  • Males
    • 14-18 Years – 11 mg/day
    • 19 Years and Above – 8 mg/day

N.B: It’s better to consume a higher amount of iron if anyone is a strict vegetarian.

Iron is indeed essential for our health, but a high dose of it can become toxic. That’s why there is always a limit. An adult can take a maximum of 45 mg/day, and it’s better to take 40 mg/day for children.

Symptoms to look for

A lack of iron can lower the hemoglobin rate of the body. Hemoglobin is a red blood protein that carries oxygen throughout the tissues and body muscles. Without hemoglobin, the body’s muscles can’t work effectively which finally results in anemia. 

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common ones of all. Less consumption of iron is the leading cause of it. Here are some symptoms to understand if anyone is consuming less iron.

  • Feeling Anxious
  • Abnormal Cravings such as Eating Soil
  • Change in Skin Tone
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Headaches
  • Joint Pain

Other than that, feeling weak, tired, and brittle nails are some usual side effects of less iron consumption. There is a chance we may get sick quickly due to overconsumption of iron. At those times, we fall ill and face some minor symptoms. Excessive consumption of iron includes signs of:

  • Stomach Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

Besides, iron toxicity may lead to fatal damages like stomach cancer, liver disease, and brain dysfunction. People who are receiving a regular blood transfusion should consider following a medical expert’s advice regarding this issue. 

Dietary Iron Supplements

Generally, a regular blood test is enough to check the iron status. Our healthcare advisor might advise us to take supplements and food, depending on the medical report. Iron supplements are good for our health, but it has some side effects as well. The most common symptoms of iron supplements are, 

  • Dark or Black Coloured Stools
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These common side effects are nothing serious to get alarmed about. Take the iron supplements as the doctor advises you. Taking more than the recommended dose can be poisonous to your health. Lowering the doses for a short time is an excellent way to adjust to the supplement. Try to take iron supplements on an empty stomach. 

Pregnancy And Lactation Need

Pregnancy is a crucial period for every woman. At this time, the iron level needs to rise to 27 mg/day. Because the iron supports the fetus. The right amount of iron intake help accommodates a woman’s need and the baby’s.

If you are predominantly breastfeeding, then it’s better to drop the iron consumption level. Depending on the age, it’s better to take 9-10 iron mg/day. Generally, the process of producing breastmilk is called lactation. During the lactation phase, it produces prolactin hormone in the body that may hinder regular menstruation. Hence, the lower intake of iron assures that it’s not getting lost through menstruation. 

Read more: What is the Relationship Between Nutrition and Health

Iron and healthful eating The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises people to get their required nutrients from food and beverages. A suitable diet chart for an individual can provide him with food that includes protein, vitamins, minerals, iron, and other substances. Besides, some beverages include all the necessary ingredients to benefit health. So, it’s always the best option to choose a healthy diet chart and schedule meal timing to get benefited from iron deficiency. 

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