Our body absorbs dietary iron mainly in the intestine, at the duodenum level. Part of this iron binds to a protein, ferritin, which is the main deposit of iron in cells; another part binds to transferrin and is transported to all tissues of the body.
Under normal health conditions, the absorption of dietary iron meets approximately 5-10% of our body’s needs. Some diseases, however, may result in a lower absorption of nutrients introduced through diet and, consequently, also cause iron deficiency.
What are the causes of iron malabsorption?
Malabsorption syndrome refers to a group of diseases that cause a decrease in the absorption of certain nutrients, including minerals such as iron, by the intestinal mucosa. Malabsorption may be due to inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (e.g., Crohn’s disease) or enzymatic deficiencies of the intestinal mucosa. Other causes may be bacterial or viral infections of the digestive tract or imbalances in the bacterial flora of the intestine (dysbiosis).
In general, these types of disorders modify the absorption of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals including iron), leading to a long-term deficiency for these substances.
A malabsorption of iron introduced through diet, in conjunction with other factors, such as specific physiological conditions (such as, in women, pregnancy, breastfeeding and the menstrual cycle) or pathological conditions, may lead to a condition of sideropenia (iron deficiency).
How does iron absorption occur?
Iron introduced with the diet is absorbed by the cells of the intestinal mucosa and, from there, it is stored mainly in the liver and spleen, or transported to other tissues of the body. Some of this iron is used for the formation of haemoglobin, myoglobin or the activity of certain enzymes.
Iron in animal-based foods, such as meat, is usually in the form of organic iron or haem iron and it is more easily absorbed than inorganic iron (non-haem iron) of plant-based foods.
When diet is not sufficient to address any iron deficiency or increased bodily demand for this nutrient, food supplements containing ironmay be used.
Sucrosomial® Iron present in the SiderAL® range of food supplements surpasses the gastric environment and is easily absorbed in the intestine, thus preventing the most common side effects related to iron intake, such as intestinal irritation, heartburn, mucosal and tooth discolouration. Sucrosomial® Technology also guarantees pleasant tasting iron, which is easier to administer even to children.