Iron is the chief among the trace elements required for the body. The total content of iron is very small in the body about 3 to 5 grams in adults.
Though the amount of iron in the body is very small, its presence is very important. Iron combines with protein for the development of hemoglobin, the red coloring matter of the blood. The main function of iron is to carry back some of the carbon dioxide formed to the lungs for exhalation. Iron is also an essential constituent of many tissues (muscles), and of the Catalysts, which regulate oxidation- reduction reactions in the body.
Eggs, liver and meat are excellent sources of iron. Among the plant foods, leafy vegetables, cereals, whole wheat flour, Italian millet, rice flakes are good sources of iron. Pulses, bajra, ragi, jowar and part-boiled rice are also good sources of iron.
Normally, we need very small quantities of iron in the food daily- that is about 20 to 30 mg. for the adult except under special circumstance as in accidents involving loss of blood, to compensate for the regular monthly loss during menstruation and in specially needs as in pregnancy, lactation and in adolescence.
Deficiency of iron results in nutritional anemia due to insufficiency of hemoglobin, in the blood. Persons lacking iron gets tired easily.