Why is iron important?


Quick Answer

Iron is an important mineral that helps transport oxygen flow throughout the body. Iron is also a vital component of maintaining healthy nails, hair, skin and cells.

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Full Answer

The primary benefit of iron is that it is an essential component of hemoglobin, which is present in red blood cells and carries oxygen from the lungs to various parts of the body. Without enough iron in a person's system, the body develops iron-deficiency anemia, which is a lack of red blood cells that reduces the amount of oxygen the body receives.

Iron deficiency results in fatigue and exhaustion that may affect brain function and the immune system's powers to fight off infections. In pregnant women, iron deficiencies may increase the risk of a premature birth or a baby with low birth weight.

The amount of iron a person needs on a daily basis varies based on overall health, age and gender. For example, young children, specifically toddlers and infants, need more iron as their bodies develop at a rapid rate. As of 2014, the recommended dose of iron for boys and girls ages 4 to 8 years is 10 milligrams per day, whereas 8 milligrams is recommended for boys and girls ages 9 to 13 years.

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