All the cells in our body utilize iron for many important functions. Our stores of iron are carefully monitored, and when we run short our bodies are quick to let us know.

Iron is part of the oxygen-carrying component of the blood called hemoglobin. Without enough iron, production of cellular energy is impaired which can cause fatigue in a person whose hemoglobin levels are normal.


  • Essential for the production of hemoglobin
  • Helps to carry oxygen to cells throughout the body
  • Needed for a healthy immune system
  • Needed for energy production
  • Prevents anemia
  • Helps prevent fatigue
  • Helps maintain good skin tone

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Paleness of skin
  • Skin wrinkles more
  • Brittle finger & toe nails
  • Hair lacks luster
  • Mouth & tongue become sore and tender
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Depression

Some vegetarians are more likely to have reduced iron stores since the iron they eat is somewhat less absorbable. There are many different factors involved in iron deficiency besides dietary iron intake, like malabsorpsion and iron loss in menstrual blood for example.

Studies have found that iron is the second most deficient mineral in the human body. Iron-deficient people tire easily in part because their bodies are starved for oxygen.

Excessive coffee & tea can reduce your ability to absorb iron. The symptoms of iron deficiency can mimic other health problems, including heavy menstrual bleeding, poor digestion, ulcers or long term illness.

Food Sources

  • Eggs
  • meat
  • liver
  • fish
  • poultry
  • green leafy vegetables
  • whole grains
  • enriched breads & cereals

Vitamin C can increase your body’s ability to absorb iron by as much as 30%.

For more information on the iron content of foods you eat frequently, search the USDA food composition database.

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