Why is iron so important for your health?

A woman in a red dress smiling at the camera while holding a bouquet of flowers

Iron is an essential nutrient for your body, which you get from your food. It is needed for your mental and physical health and to keep your energy levels up.1–3 Iron is present in a substance called haemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body.4 Oxygen is required in your brain for concentration and in your muscles for physical energy.5

Iron is also needed to maintain a healthy immune system, helping you to fight off infections.6

What happens if you don’t get enough iron?

If the iron levels in your body are low you can become iron deficient. The recommended levels for iron in the body are different for different people, depending on age and gender.7 Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world.8

If iron deficiency is not treated there can be long-term consequences for your health. Fatigue and other symptoms of iron deficiency can also lower your quality of life and reduce your ability to concentrate and be productive at work.3 If you think you may be iron deficient, it is important that you speak to your doctor so that they can investigate further.


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  2. Brownlie T, Utermohlen V, Hinton PS, Haas JD. Tissue iron deficiency without anemia impairs adaptation in endurance capacity after aerobic training in previously untrained women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(3):437-43.
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