The main health benefit of iron is the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells.3 Hemoglobin is the principal carrier of oxygen throughout the body and gives the dark red color to blood.
One of the health benefits of iron is directly tied to its ability to help the body's cells make energy. It also helps with the metabolic enzymatic processes that the body carries out to metabolise proteins and absorb nutrients from food. This is why iron deficiency can cause fatigue or tiredness.
Our brain uses approximately 20% of the oxygen in our bloodstream. Iron is critical to the transport of oxygen in our blood making it very important for brain health. When iron levels in the blood drop, mental concentration and attentiveness is affected.
Iron is a vital element for muscle strength and is found in myoglobin, a muscle protein. Myoglobin carries oxygen from hemoglobin and diffuses it throughout muscle cells. This is required for contraction of muscles.
Iron plays a key role in the effectiveness of our body's immune response to fight infections.4 It also promotes hemoglobin which provides oxygen to damaged cells, tissues, and organs.
Without iron, the healing process cannot start.
Not only does a mother-to-be require iron, but she also needs to meet the needs of the fetus and placenta. According to World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency during a pregnancy can increase the risk of maternal and infant mortality, premature birth and low birthweight.
3 National Heart, Lungs and Blood Institute, Iron-deficiency Anemia. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/iron-deficiency-anemia
4 Cherayil, B. The role of iron in the immune response to bacterial infection. Immunol Res. 2011 May; 50(1):1-9, doi:10.1007/s12026-010-8199-1.