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Iron is essential for humans

Iron is essential for humans. It is a vital component of hundreds of proteins and enzymes found within the body. Iron is needed for growth and reproduction, as well as healing and immune function. It plays a vital role in the metabolism of almost all living organisms.

Within the human body, iron is an essential element in the following processes:

  • Storage and Transportation of Oxygen – Iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron containing compound, it is the primary protein found in all red blood cells, and is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the cells of the body. In addition to being found in hemoglobin, iron is stored in the liver, spleen, bone marrow and other tissues.
  • Energy Metabolism (and electron transport) – there are many iron containing compounds which are critical elements in “cellular energy production and therefore life, through their roles in mitochondrial electron transport.”
  • The Production of DNA – the enzyme required for DNA synthesis (ribonucleotide reductase) is in fact an iron-dependent enzyme.
  • Antioxidant (and beneficial pro-oxidant properties) – multiple iron containing enzymes protect the body against harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage, thus helping to prevent a state of oxidative stress.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies seen in the world today! Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency include, fatigue, headaches, impaired ability to maintain normal body temperature in cold environments, rapid heart rate, palpitations and rapid breathing on exertion, as well as behavioural disturbances and impaired performance in physical activities and some cognitive tasks. Deficiencies are more commonly seen in infants and children (between the ages of 6 months and 4 years), adolescents (due to rapid growth and the onset of menstruation in females), pregnant women (due to the developing fetus and placenta, and increased blood volume), vegetarians (as plant sources of iron are not as readily absorbed as animal sources), as well as those individuals with Helicobacter pylori infection, chronic blood loss and those who carry out regular, intense exercise.

There are multiple sources of iron in the human diet, such as egg yolk, meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, along with mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, soybeans, kidney beans and lentils.  However, the amount of iron that is actually absorbed from these foods and used by the body is affected by two factors;

i) The iron status of the individual.

ii) The form of the iron – iron found in red meat, poultry and fish (known as “heme” iron) is more efficiently absorbed by the body, compared to the type of iron found in plants sources and dairy products (“nonheme” iron). The ability of the body to absorb nonheme iron is affected significantly by certain enhancers (such as vitamin Cand heme iron i.e. meat, fish and poultry) and inhibitors (such as phyticacid found in grains, legumes and rice, polyphenols found in certain fruits, vegetables, spices, tea, coffee and wine and soy protein found in tofu) when eaten at the same meal.

After many years of research, the team at Kingsway have just developed a new transdermal iron cream(100mg/ml), which contains the most suitable forms of micronised iron incorporated within our own unique delivery system. This formulation was only released to the public halfway through last year and we are already seeing fantastic results. Transdermal products provide multiple benefits to the patient over oral supplementation, two of the main ones being…

1) Avoidance of the gastrointestinal tract, of particular importance for those individuals with severe gut inflammation and absorption issues. They allow the active ingredient (e.g. iron) to be carried directly into the blood stream, bypassing the gut and liver.

2) Improved compliance, especially helpful when treating young children who can’t or won’t swallow capsules, and/or those individuals with mouth or throat issues, which makes it difficult for them to swallow capsules.

The other added benefit of using our iron transdermal cream is no constipation, an unfortunate, very common side effect with most oral iron supplements.



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  2. Fairbanks V. Iron in medicine and nutrition. Nutrition and Health and Disease. Williams and Wilkins. 1999: 223-239.
  3. Yip R, Dallman PR. Iron. Present knowledge in nutrition. Wassington, D.C. ILSI Press. 1996: (7) 277-292.
  4. Williams A. Transdermal and topical drug delivery. Pharmaceutical Press. 2003
  5. Lynch S. Interaction of iron with other nutrients. Nut Rev. 1997: 55(4);102-110
  6. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Iron. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese. molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, D.C. National Academy Press: 2001; 290-393.


Iron is essential for humans

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