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How do you absorb the right amount of iron?

Iron is an essential nutrient for the well-being of the body. Absorbing the right daily amount is important for the proper activity of many metabolic functions and to maintain normal levels of haemoglobin in the blood. Let’s find out how to absorb the right amount of iron daily.

The importance of absorbing the right amount of iron daily

Before talking about how to absorb the right amount of iron daily, it is important to analyse the mechanism of iron absorption consumed through diet

The iron present in food iis absorbed by enterocytes, the cells that make up the epithelium of the intestinal mucosa. From here, iron is transported to the liver and spleen for storage or is used immediately for the formation of certain proteins useful for transporting oxygen (haemoglobin, myoglobin) and certain enzymes (cytochromes).

Not all iron that is consumed through food is absorbed by the body in the same way. There are in fact two types of food iron:

  • Haem iron, present in animal-based food;
  • Non-haem iron or inorganic iron, present in plant-based food.

Haem iron a derives from haemoglobin and myoglobin present in the animal-based food matrix (meat, liver, spleen, fish) and is more easily absorbed by our body. This is because specific sites are present on the cells for binding haem iron (iron bound to the porphyrins that make up the haem group of haemoglobin). Haem iron is also more “protected” by the action of substances that can inhibit the intestinal absorption of this essential nutrient.

Non-haem iron, on the other hand, does not have specific absorption sites on the surface of intestinal cells. Furthermore, in the basic environment of the intestine, non-haem iron is present in the form of trivalent iron (Fe3+). To be absorbed by cells, trivalent iron must be reduced to bivalent iron (Fe2+). This reduction reaction is operated by an enzyme, duodenal cytochrome B. This absorption mechanism is slower than the absorption mechanism of haem iron. In addition, non-haem iron is more exposed to possible binding with substances that may decrease its absorption.

Absorbing iron through food: which foods to avoid and which foods to prioritise

The substances that hinder the absorption of iron are as follows:

  • calcium (present in abundance in milk and dairy products);
  • phytates (present in grains);
  • oxalates (present in some vegetables, such as spinach);
  • tannins (present in coffee, tea, chocolate and wine).

Vitamin C, on the other hand, helps the body to absorb iron in the intestine. Vitamin C-rich foods are a valuable support fordedicated to people with iron deficiency.

What to do you when diet is not enough to absorb the right amount of iron daily?

Under normal health conditions, a healthy and balanced diet is sufficient to ensure the body has the right supply of all nutrients, including iron. In women, ome specific physiological conditions such as menstrual cycle, pregnancy or breastfeeding can lead to increased iron consumption by the body and consequently an increased need for this nutrient. Children and adolescents also have an increased need for iron to support growth, for normal immune system function and for normal cognitive development.

In addition, certain conditions in the intestine may decrease the absorption of iron consumed through diet

If diet alone is not sufficient to address the deficiencies or increased body iron requirements, specific dietary supplements may be used.

The Sucrosomial® Iron contained in the SiderAL® range of food supplements passes the gastric environment intact and is easily absorbed in the intestine. Sucrosomial® Technology reduces the most common iron-related side effects, such as heartburn, intestinal irritation, mucous membrane and tooth discolouration. The characteristic taste of iron is also improved, resulting in a pleasant taste and which, therefore, is more easily administered to children. 

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