Iron in your Body

Iron is essential for life but can cause problems if left unchecked.  Too much iron circulating in the body can create molecules that damage organs and harmful bacteria can take advantage of excess iron to multiply causing diseases.  Because of these dangers, there are processes to control iron in the body.​

There are many ways the body controls iron:​

  • Iron is securely stored in cells and only released when needed​
  • Proteins attach to and protect iron as it moves around in the blood​
  • The body carefully controls how much iron is taken in from food​
  • The body recycles and reuses a large amount of iron from cells​
  • The body locks down its iron supply when it senses harmful bacteria​

If the body is unable to do any of these processes, it can lead to anemia.


Those at higher risk of anemia:

  • Infants and preschool children (age < 5 years)
  • Young menstruating women
  • Pregnant women (second/third trimester and postpartum)
  • Elderly persons
  • Non-Hispanic blacks or Hispanics
  • Vegetarians or vegans
  • Blood donors
  • Endurance athletes
  • Those with Chronic illness such as:
    • Chronic Kidney Disease
    • Autoimmune Diseases
    • Cancer
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Diabetes
  • Those with chronic Iron Deficiency

Affects of Iron Deficiency:

  • Leading cause of anemia
  • Learning impairment in young children
  • Pregnancy complications for both mothers and newborns
  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Cognitive decline in the elderly

Iron Deficiency affects an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide