Iron is a mineral that our bodies need for many functions. For example, iron is part of hemoglobin, a protein which carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies. It helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Iron is also part of many other proteins and enzymes.
Your body needs the right amount of iron. If you have too little iron, you may develop iron deficiency anemia. Causes of low iron levels include blood loss, poor diet, or an inability to absorb enough iron from foods. People at higher risk of having too little iron are young children and women who are pregnant or have periods.
Too much iron can damage your body. Taking too many iron supplements can cause iron poisoning. Some people have an inherited disease called hemochromatosis. It causes too much iron to build up in the body.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Avoiding Anemia: Boost Your Red Blood Cells (National Institutes of Health)
- Genetics Home Reference: African iron overload (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: GRACILE syndrome (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- FastStats: Anemia or Iron Deficiency (National Center for Health Statistics)