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Iron, Fe

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:05 pm
by majestik
Iron, the earth’s most abundant mineral by mass, is also the life force of humans. A core component of hemoglobin and myoglobin, where oxygen is transported around in human bodies. Iron is also essential for cellular respiration as well as oxidation and reduction in both plants and animals. The adult male carries about 3.8 grams and the adult female, about 2.3 grams (a function of size, really) of iron, generally distributed in the red blood cells and well as in other parts of the body and organs.

Iron is essential for metabolism of many proteins and enzymes involved in various body functions and cell growth. The chemical symbol for iron is Fe
Iron is a metal, with atomic number of 26 and standard atomic weight of 55.845. A group 8

element in period 4, iron’s electron configuration is 1s2.2s2-2p6.3s2-3p6-3d6.4s2. Meaning that iron is highly reactive with just 2 electrons in its valence shell. It loses those two electrons to form molecules thus gaining a positive charge or ion (oxidation). Under certain conditions, iron can also gain electrons to complete its outer valence shell (reduction). Because of its chemistry, basic iron will quickly react with oxygen to form iron oxide, hence it is rare to find basic iron in nature. The earth’s crust is believed to be made of iron, a factor which accounts for the earth's magnetic field. Iron typically forms a simple compound with oxygen (each oxygen is short two valence electrons) Fe2O3. FeO is also not uncommon, though less stable in nature.

Ferrous oxide, the common rust, is red. Red blood cell derives its color from iron.


While iron is abundant in nature, and a common component of most human nutritional sources, iron is particularly abundant in red meat, leafy vegetables and and beans. Although not common, iron overload can be harmful to the human body and has been associated with tumor growth and increase susceptibility to the onset of cancer. Lack of iron, on the other hand quickly leads to iron deficient anemia, which, left untreated can be fatal. Anemia is often the primary reason for blood transfusion and iron infusion.

The US FDA and the US Institute of medicine (IOM) provide guidance on recommended dietary allowance (FDA) and estimated average requirement (IOM). These numbers are intended to help you keep an eye on your iron consumption from food and supplements. You will notice that the FDA’s recommended dietary allowance (RDA) are higher than the IOM’s EAR. Just see it as one tells you what your minimum target should be, and the other what your optimum maximum should be. The dietary guideline is based on age and gender.