Iron has a number of important roles in the the body but perhaps the most crucial is it's use in the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that gives red blood cells their color, and is needed to carry oxygen throughout the body. Without a sufficient flow of blood, almost all functions and processes in the body will begin to deteriorate.
Foods rich in the mineral iron include red met, chicken, tuna and sardines. Dried fruit, pulses and spinach are also good sources of iron.
The European Commission daily recommendation for iron is 14mg for both men and women. In the UK, the RDA for iron is 8.7mg for men and 14.8mg for women. In the United States, the recommendations for iron are 15mg for women and 10mg for men.
An iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional problems suffered by women in the UK. As a woman's body changes during pregnancy or the menstrual cycle, their required nutritional intake changes too. A surprisingly high number of women don't consume enough iron in their diets with this number increasing during the aforementioned periods of change.
Iron deficiency leads to anemia which manifests itself in fatigue, pale skin, poor circulation and general weakness. It can also lead to a greater risk of developing infections which is particularly worrying during pregnancy.
Babies and young children with iron deficiency can develop learning and behavioral difficulties that can be very hard to address.