Iron: keeping blood healthy
In the seventh article in our series on nutrition, Sarah Schenker explains how iron is essential to keep our bodies running smoothly and how to make sure you are getting enough
- By: Sarah Schenker
The body has a requirement for iron because of the central role that it plays in energy metabolism and in the production of red blood cells (erythropoesis). Iron is a transition metal and takes part in redox processes--for example, reduction by an organic substrate and reoxidation by oxygen. It binds with oxygen either on its own or as part of a complex. Iron is transported in the blood by the protein transferrin and is stored in the body as the proteins ferritin and haemosiderin. Functionally important forms of iron are haemoglobin, myoglobin, cytochromes, iron-sulphur proteins, iron enzymes, and lactoferrin.
Approximately two thirds of the body's iron is in the pigment haemoglobin, which transports oxygen in red blood cells. Most of the 20-30 mg of iron needed each day for the synthesis of haemoglobin comes from the recycling of senile red blood cells. Red blood cells live for 120 days before