Iron Man & Woman – Iron Absorption

“Iron Man & Woman” — For hundreds of years the importance of dietary iron was common knowledge. Despite this understanding, one of the most common worldwide nutrient deficiencies is iron. This is also the only nutrient where the RDA for men is less than the RDA for young women. (3)

Worldwide

Every living cell contains iron, amounting to approximately 5 grams, or one teaspoon for the whole body. Iron absorption is based on a number of factors. This article provides an overview of what factors come into play in its absorption. (2)

Absorption – Controls
Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol.
Hypertension – The Silent Killer — Exercise Makes a Difference

Once iron is absorbed it is not easily eliminated from our bodies, therefore, it is important to control iron absorption. Several mechanisms exist to regulate our body’s ability to absorb iron. Generally, iron absorption depends on:

  • the body’s need for iron,
  • its form in a particular food,
  • and many other factors.

Healthy people absorb approximately eighteen percent of the iron present in food, however people who are iron deficient absorb more. (2)

Absorption – Form Counts
Steak – Heme Iron

Iron is found in different forms based on the food. The amount absorbed is influenced by the particular form. Within animal flesh, approximately forty percent of the total iron is:

  1. hemoglobin, the form that is found in red blood cells, and
  2. myoglobin, the pigment that is present in muscle cells.

This kind of iron is referred to as heme iron and is absorbed approximately 2 – 3 times better than nonheme iron (the simple elemental iron). Nonheme iron is the form that is added during the enrichment process to grain products. It is also found in:

  • animal flesh,
  • milk,
  • eggs,
  • grains,
  • vegetables, as well as
  • other plant foods. (2) (3)

    Citrus Fruit – Increases Absorption of Nonheme Iron

Consuming nonheme iron with heme iron together increases the absorption of nonheme iron. Consuming more vitamin C rich foods will increase iron absorption, especially if blood iron is too low or there is inadequate dietary iron. Copper also aids with the body’s iron use.

Iron is the oldest known trace mineral critical for the growth and development of the human body. A number of factors influence its absorption, including its form (whether heme or nonheme) as well as other foods with which it is consumed. The body of knowledge is vast and this article just touches upon its absorption. The next article will further delve into what affects its absorption and its distribution.

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/immpact/micronutrients/index.html
https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/99-02/pdf/nr_ch3.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00051880.htm

Without the Trace – Minerals That Is


Without the trace — minerals that is, you cannot maintain a healthy life. Also referred to as microminerals, this area of nutrition science is growing at a rapid rate. Although the importance of iron has been known for centuries, it is only within the last 50 years that scientists recognized the significance of other trace minerals. Even though only 100 milligrams or less of each of these minerals are required daily, they are as essential as major minerals for good health. (5)

This article provides a general overview of trace minerals. Discover additional key facts and findings including rich sources of specific trace minerals in this next series of articles.

The Mystery Uncovered
trace minerals, microminerals, iron, iodide, zinc, selenium, copper, fluoride, chromium, manganese, and molybdenum, vitamin C, deficiencies
Selenium Deficiency Found in Remote Areas of China

The importance of each micromineral is like following a good mystery, and still, evidence continues to unfold.

  • Scientists found a rare type of heart disease in a remote area of China. This disease was linked to a deficiency in selenium.
  • In 1961 other research scientists linked a zinc deficiency to dwarfism, prevalent among Middle Eastern villagers.
  • In the latter part of the 1960’s and early 1970’s synthetic formulas for intravenous feeding omitted some trace minerals. When recipients of these intravenous feedings showed symptoms of deficiencies, it led to the identification of these trace minerals.  (1) (2)
The Difficulty in Identifying Trace Minerals
minerals, supplements, lab
Mineral Supplements are Manufactured in the Lab

The difficulty lies in the ability to define precisely what our trace mineral needs are since only minuscule amounts are needed. In order to measure these minute amounts in both body tissues and food, highly complex technology is required.

Although the mystery continues to unfold, we are aware of iron, iodide, zinc, selenium, copper, fluoride, chromium, manganese, and molybdenum. In the next article, we will see how foods rich in vitamin C increases the absorption of minerals, and iron in particular, a trace mineral commonly found deficient in a large percent of the world’s population. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/99-02/pdf/nr_ch4b.pdf
2. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6302a3.htm
3. https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/99-02/pdf/nr_ch4a.pdf
4. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp132-c1-b.pdf
5. https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/Trace.pdf

Take Heart with Potassium

Take heart with potassium… . In order to live, you need minerals. Not just any mineral — eating dirt won’t be helpful, but everyone needs those major and trace minerals required for basic life functions. This article will take an in-depth look at the major mineral, potassium.

Heart Health: Potassium and Sodium

Potassium and sodium share many of the same life functions, namely transmission of nerve impulses and fluid balance, but in different locations. Where sodium operates outside the cell, potassium operates inside. Fluids found inside the cell (intracellular fluids) contain most of the potassium found in the body — 95%.

Your Blood Pressure: What’s Healthy – What’s Not

Additionally, where sodium intake increases blood pressure, potassium lowers blood pressure. Potassium is a critical element for cardiovascular function. (1) (2)

A person who has low blood potassium is in a life-threatening situation. Often, symptoms include:

  • muscle cramps,
  • loss of appetite,
  • constipation, and
  • confusion.

Eventually the heart will beat irregularly, thus decreasing its ability to pump blood. (1) (2)

Potassium Needs:
potassium, trace minerals, microminerals, sodium, hypertension, heart health, blood pressure, heart, intracellular fluids, processed food, unprocessed food, minerals, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, meats, and dried beans, kidneys, minerals
Whole Grains – Mineral Rich

Adults need to consume 4700 milligrams (4.7 grams) per day in order to fulfill the Adequate Intake for potassium requirements. The food and supplement labels use the Daily Value based on 3500 milligrams. Although approximately 90% of the potassium we eat is absorbed, the average North American only consumes 2000 to 3000 milligrams of potassium per day. Most need to increase their intake. (3) (4)

Where sodium is often added to foods, potassium is not, contributing to a lower intake. Also, those with high blood pressure being treated with diuretics are at risk of depleting their body’s potassium stores. Therefore, people who take diuretics waste their body’s potassium and must carefully monitor their intake of this mineral. Foods high in potassium are healthy additions to their diets. (3) (4)

potassium, trace minerals, microminerals, sodium, hypertension, heart health, blood pressure, heart, intracellular fluids, processed food, unprocessed food, minerals, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, meats, and dried beans, kidneys
Take Heart with Potassium – The Role of Your Kidneys

No Upper Level for potassium is set since potassium toxicity is not a risk with typical food intakes as long as the kidneys function properly. Those with unhealthy kidney function, however, are at risk for the build up of potassium in the blood. This prevents the heart from functioning and slows the heartbeat. If left untreated, it results in death. (3)

Potassium Sources:

The most healthy way to meet your potassium requirements is by increasing the consumption of foods rich in potassium. Unprocessed foods are generally rich sources of potassium, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, meats, and dried beans. (4) (5)

What’s your favorite potassium rich food? Do you have a recipe to share?

References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm
2. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p0711_sodiumpotassiumdiet.html
3. https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/dietary-reference-intakes
4. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
5. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-10/