Enhances Oxygen TransportAll of the tissues in our body need a near constant supply of oxygen to maintain life. We maintain this oxygen delivery by the red cells in our blood. These have an iron-containing protein called hemoglobin, which is a perfect transporter for oxygen, in that it both picks up and releases oxygen in an exact and targeted way.
The average man has about 2 grams of iron in his blood cells at any given time while women have about 1.6 grams. If the dietary iron intake falls below daily needs and this storage amount goes down, the ability to tolerate bursts of exercise will deteriorate. The reduction in blood count related to having low iron stores (or other nutrient deficiencies, including of vitamin B12, folate, copper, and vitamin A) is called anemia.
Supports Energy ProductionIn addition to the key role iron plays in transporting oxygen to tissues, it also is necessary to support proper metabolism for muscles and other active organs. Almost all of the cells in our body burn dietary calories to create energy through a process that requires iron. When iron stores get low, this process gets compromised, and generalized fatigue can occur.
This lag in energy production tends to occur earlier than changes in blood cell production, so the muscle fatigue and changes in concentration are likely to be noticeable long before laboratory testing shows low blood cell production.
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