Iron is necessary for producing hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that carry oxygen. So, you need to get plenty of iron in your diet to have enough energy to do all the things you need to do every day.
When you don’t get enough iron, you’re at risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia, a condition where your red blood cells can’t carry enough oxygen to all the cells in your body. People with iron deficiency anemia may have any of these symptoms:
- Problems with memory and thinking
- Feeling cold
- Red, inflamed tongue
Most women need more iron than men due to blood loss from menstruation, and pregnant women need more iron for the developing fetus. Blood loss due to ulcers or other digestive system disorders can also lead to an iron deficiency anemia.
How Much Iron to Eat Every Day
Adult men need about 8 milligrams (mg) of iron per day, and premenopausal adult women need 18 mg per day. Women over the age of 50 only need about 8 mg per day.
Taking Iron as a Dietary Supplement
Most men and postmenopausal women get enough iron from foods and should not take iron supplements unless prescribed by a healthcare provider. Prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements usually contain iron and women with heavy periods may need supplemental iron.