Amount of iron in the adult body is about 45mg/kg body weight, of which 70percent is present in haemoglobin,4 personality cent in the myoglobin of the muscles and 25 personality cent is stored in liver, bone marrow, spleen and kidneys.

Iron is essential for the oxidation process in the body. Haemoglobin combines with oxygen in the lungs to form oxyhaemoglobin and is carried to all parts of the body tissues by blood circulation. On its return, haemoglobin serves as a carrier for some of the carbon dioxide, which is exhaled by lungs.

Like haemoglobin, myoglobin also stores oxygen in the muscles for use in muscle contraction iron containing oxygen in the muscles makes the oxidation of carbohydrates, fat and protein possible within the intact cell.

Iron is stored chiefly in the liver, spleen and bone marrow. The amount varies from 1 to 2 gms.


Deficiency of Iron

Anaemia is caused by the deficiency of iron which is one of the major problems of India, particularly among pregnant women, infant and small children as their requirement of essential nutrients is higher than that of other groups. About 10-30 personality cent of the population suffers from iron deficiency.

Nutritional anaemia is due to the deficiency of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12. The body of an adult man contains about 40gms of iron. The greatest part of iron is present in the blood, the remainder in the muscle cells, other body cells and respiratory enzymes. Approximately 1gm is found in liver and spleen.

Iron deficiency anaemia can occur at all stages and among both sexes. It is very common in un-developed countries as a result of inadequate diet or poor absorption. Hypochromic macrocytic anamea is observed most frequently in infants and young children, adolescent girls and in women in the age group of 15 to 45 years.


Anaemia is the condition in which there is a reduction in the total circulating haemoglobin.

Causes of iron deficiency may be as follows:

(a) Infants and children often develop iron deficiency during period of rapid growth when the iron intake is not in accordance with demand of the increasing tissues.

(b) Young adolescent girls require more iron to meet the requirements of increased blood volume in the intestinal flow.


(c) Pregnancy imposes substantial demands upon the iron supply to provide for the growing foetus, to build upon the infant’ this iron reserves and provide for blood loss during delivery.

(d) Chronic blood loss due to bleeding, peptic ulcer or recurrent nose bleeding also causes anemia.

Symptoms of Anaemia

Anaemia usually develops slowly. Lowered haemoglobin content results in decreased ability to carry oxygen to the cells and to return the resulting carbon dioxide to the lungs for exhalation.


With less availability of oxygen and more accumulation of carbon dioxide in the cells, the body processes become sluggish and efficiency is lowered. Common symptoms are weakness, getting tired easily, and breathlessness, dimness of vision, headache, insomnia, and palpitation, loss of appetitte, dyspepsia, and poor hair growth. The nails become brittle and longitudinally ridged with fissures.

Recommended Allowances

It is recommended that 20-30mg. of iron personality day is sufficient for an adult under normal conditions. The requirement increases special conditions like pregnancy.

Sources of Iron


Liver, meat products and egg yolk have a good amount of iron. Green leafy vegetables and beetroot provide good amount of this mineral. Dried fruits, apricots and dates also apply appreciable amount of iron. White sugar is devoid of iron but raw sugar and molasses have high iron content. Like white sugar, milk also does not contain this nutrient.