Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Understanding iron requirements

Pam Mason looks at iron deficiency, the most frequently encountered nutritional deficiency in the world, and haemochromatosis


Green, leafy vegetables are a good source of non-haem iron (Sergey Goruppa/Dreamstime.com)

The human body contains about 50mg/kg of iron. Of this, approximately 60 per cent is in the haemoglobin of red blood cells and 5 per cent is in the myoglobin of muscle cells.

A further 30 per cent is found in body stores as ferritin (20 per cent) and haemosiderin (10 per cent), which are the two major iron-storage proteins and are found mainly in the liver.

The remaining 5 per cent or so of the body’s iron is distributed among various enzymes. A small amount (<0.1 per cent) is in transit in the circulation bound to transferrin, the main iron transport protein in the body.

Iron has several functions. It is:

  • Necessary for the formation of haemoglobin and hence for the transport of oxygen and cell respiration
  • Responsible for oxygen storage in the muscle (as a component of myoglobin)
  • A component of cytochromes (which are critical for the electron transport chain) and, therefore, involved in energy production (by virtue of its redox activity)
  • A component of enzymes necessary for immune function (Iron deficiency may compromise immune function while iron overload may predispose to infection because iron is an essential growth factor for microorganisms.)

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10016865

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Green, leafy vegetables are a good source of non-haem iron (Sergey Goruppa/Dreamstime.com)

Supplementary information

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.