Iron for fatigue

Why is iron so important?

Iron is a mineral essential for many functions in the body and is a nutrient that the body cannot produce on its own, so you need to get it from food and/or supplements. Today, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world (after protein deficiency, which is still common in some countries), so it is important to keep track of your iron intake. The reason iron deficiency is so prevalent is partly because some forms of iron are not absorbed well by the body and partly because women lose iron with each menstruation. Iron deficiency is therefore more common in women than in men. In addition, iron is particularly important during pregnancy, which also affects women. Men can also be low in iron, but this is usually related to low absorption and/or a poor diet.

The body needs iron for:

Red blood cell production and oxygen transport

Iron is essential for the production of haemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Haemoglobin is a protein whose job is to bind oxygen in the lungs and then transport it through the bloodstream to the various organs of the body that need oxygen to function. Hemoglobin is also responsible for picking up carbon dioxide (a waste product) on its way back to the lungs so that we can breathe it out. In other words, iron plays an extremely important role in the functioning of red blood cells and, therefore, the oxygenation of the body's organs. If you have too little iron in your body, oxygen transport is impaired, resulting in fatigue and breathlessness.

Energy turnover

In order for the body's cells to produce energy, a number of nutrients are needed, including iron. Iron acts as a catalyst inside the cell so that the production of energy works properly. It is therefore a contributing factor to iron deficiency, which can cause fatigue and is also a very common symptom of low iron levels.

Function of the immune system

Iron is an essential mineral for a healthy immune system. Low levels of iron are linked to increased susceptibility to infection, reduced white blood cell counts and reduced antibody production.

Cognitive functions

Iron is also important for the cognitive development and functions of the brain as it is involved in the production of energy, the myelination of nerve fibres and the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as GABA, dopamine and serotonin.

Cell division

Cell division also involves DNA replication, i.e. the DNA present in the dividing cell is copied into the new cell. For this process to take place correctly, many different substances are needed, including iron.

Reduces fatigue and exhaustion

Iron reduces fatigue and exhaustion related to low iron levels due to its role in blood oxygen transport and cellular energy production.

Do all iron supplements affect the stomach?

No, it depends on the source of iron in the supplement and the dose you take. Some forms of iron may affect the stomach more than others. If you have a sensitive stomach, organic forms of iron, such as iron bisglycinate, may be a better option as they are gentler on the stomach.

Tips and advice

A good intake of vitamin C will help your body absorb more of the iron you get. The reason is that vitamin C converts iron from the diet into a form that is easier for the body to absorb. Foods high in iron include liver pate, blood pudding, meat, fish, eggs, but also in vegetables such as spinach, dried apricots, nuts and pulses. The form of iron found in animal foods is better absorbed by the body than iron from plant-based foods, so vitamin C intake is particularly important for increased absorption.