Iron is an essential mineral, required by almost all life forms. It plays a vital role in various crucial metabolic activities such as the synthesis of DNA and the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Here’s a look at why iron matters and what you can do to ensure you meet your daily intake requirement.
Who Needs Iron?
We all require iron in our diets to keep us energized and keep our bodies running optimally. However, growing children and adolescents, menstruating and pregnant women require more iron than the average person. In India, 59% of children under the age of 5, 53% of all women and about 23% of all men suffer from Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA) as per the National Family Health Survey, 2015-2016.
The Role of Iron in Nutrition
Iron is the main component of haemoglobin in the blood, which helps to supply oxygen to the different parts of the body. Haemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the body’s iron. If you don't have enough iron, your body can't make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. When your muscles and tissues do not get an adequate supply of oxygen, they become unable to function effectively. This condition is known as anaemia. Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA) is the most common type of anaemia observed worldwide. Although there are other contributing factors such as blood loss and ineffective nutrient absorption, the main cause of IDA is inadequate intake of iron through regular diet.
What Are the Symptoms and Consequences of Iron Deficiency?
If you're not getting sufficient oxygen in the body, you can be become fatigued. That exhaustion can affect everything from your brain function to your immune system's ability to fight off infections. Some of the most commonly observed symptoms of IDA include lethargy, pale skin, shortness of breath, headaches and dizziness. The deprivation of oxygen associated with iron deficiency can also cause you to have dry and damaged skin and hair. In some cases, heart palpitations may also be observed. A sore, swollen or strangely smooth tongue can also be a sign of IDA.
Iron deficiency can adversely affect cognitive performance, physical capabilities and immunity of people of all age groups. In young children, it can also affect growth and behaviour. During pregnancy, it can pose significant perinatal risks for both the child and mother. It also increases the instances of infant mortality. If you suspect you are iron deficient, speak to your doctor about how you can best combat this deficiency.
Iron for Your Diet - The Tata Salt Plus Health Benefit
Animal-based foods such as poultry, red-meat, liver and fish are rich in iron. Vegetarian diets are at a slight disadvantage in terms of iron availability, although iron can also be obtained through plant-based sources such as green vegetables like paalak and broccoli, legumes and beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. The high rate of instances of IDA in India could be due to a variety of factors including poverty, lack of health education and commonly in urban regions, busy lifestyles which leave proper nutrition on the back burner.
Aside from maintaining a balanced diet, incorporating an iron supplement can help ensure you are getting your daily dose of this essential element. Include vitamin C in your diet, as it will help your body absorb iron better. Make sure you eat enough vitamin C-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. If you are iron deficient, it may be a good idea to avoid certain foods that can inhibit iron absorption when eaten in large amounts such tea, coffee and foods high in calcium.
Try swapping out your ordinary namak for Tata Salt Plus. In a two-step blending process, it is fortified with both iodine and iron, and can fulfil up to 50% of your family’s daily requirement for iron intake. So make a smart choice for your family and use Tata Salt Plus to help fulfil everyone’s iron requirements.
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