Iron: An essential trace element
Iron is a vital trace element that needs to be taken in through food. Trace elements are inorganic food components that account for only a small proportion of body weight.
It fulfills many important functions in the body. As the central atom in hemoglobin, the blood pigment of red blood cells, it is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. Oxygen taken in through the lungs is bound to hemoglobin and distributed throughout the body via the blood. Furthermore, iron plays a crucial role in the normal functioning of the immune system and can contribute to a reduction in fatigue and tiredness.
Iron is found in a wide variety of foods. Cereals, meat and pulses in particular, but also some fruits and vegetables, are suitable sources of iron. However, the availability of iron varies depending on the source. In general, the trace element is better absorbed from foods of animal origin, where it is present as heme iron.
The need for iron is influenced by various factors and varies depending on the population group. For example, children and adolescents, pregnant and nursing women, and competitive athletes have an increased need for iron. Iron deficiency can be manifested by fatigue, pallor or mucosal disorders.