What is iron deficiency?

Iron is an essential nutrient that is normally acquired from food1. The total amount of iron in the body is approximately 3 to 4 grams, which corresponds to a concentration of 40-50 mg of iron per kilogram of body weight2.

Iron plays a vital role in the transport and storage of oxygen, in oxidative metabolism and in cellular growth: Iron is an essential building block for haemoglobin, a protein present in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and organs. Haemoglobin is dependent on iron for its formation and oxygen-carrying property, and a lack of iron can cause a drop in the haemoglobin level and result in a condition called iron deficiency anaemia.

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1.  Donovan, A., Roy, C. N. & Andrews, N. C. Physiology 21, 115-123 (2006)
2.  Crichton, R. D., Bo.G; Geisser, P. Fourth Edition edn, (Bremen: UNI-MED, 2008)