Iron is a vital mineral for every organism on Earth. It is one of the main structural blocks of animals, plants and even the buildings we live in, while carrying the oxygen needed by the cells through the blood.
In elemental form, iron is a strong but brittle metal included in the 8th Group of the Periodic Table. In pure form it can be extremely reactive and oxidizes very fast, especially when exposed to heat or moisture. It is actually the most common of all metals on Earth, and the fourth most abundant element overall. Scientists believe that iron makes up most of the core of the planet.
This metal is also extremely widespread in the Universe, being part of the sun and most planets and stars. It is very important in biology, being vital for the life of almost all organisms. Plants use it to synthesize chlorophyll, the compound that converts light into energy. Humans and animals need iron to produce hemoglobin, the blood molecule that transports oxygen from the lungs to every cell.
It is well known that a deficit of iron leads to hair loss and eventually baldness. Most women who lose their hair suffer from a lack of iron and this is one of the most common root causes for thin and fragile hair. However, it is not easy to measure the level of iron in the body. Often, the deficit of iron can only be diagnosed after it reaches extremely low levels and starts to have serious consequences.
One of the most obvious signs is hair loss. If you notice such a problem, you can try to eat food with a high content of iron, which boosts hair growth. This is actually the easiest way to prevent baldness. Many foods have a content of iron but the body is unable to absorb it from any source. In order to choose the right diet, it's best to ask the advice of a specialist.
According to the World Health Organization, a lack of iron is the worst diet problem in the world. Even if iron is widespread, including more in the daily diet is a lot more complicated than it seems. Many people try to ingest more iron in order to balance its level and stop hair loss but this can be a very complex and frustrating process.
Women require a higher amount of iron compared to men. In order to stay healthy, a woman needs about 18 mg every day, when aged between 19 and 50 years old. Elder women need a lesser amount, of only 8 mg daily. However, pregnant women must be supplied with a much higher amount than normal.
According to modern research, many foods can actually decrease the amount of iron in the body. These include most products that have a lot of calories but a low nutritional content, like sweets, chips or sodas.
Iron is one of the main minerals needed for a healthy hair with a strong growth. Insufficient amounts of iron lead to hair loss and the overall lack of energy known as anemia. This can be compensated with iron supplements but these should only be taken after the advice of a doctor. Unlike other types of supplements, the iron ones can have negative effects in large amounts, so a doctor's opinion is mandatory in such cases.
Iron is found in many foods but it can only be absorbed from some of them, here are a few of the best sources. Probably the most important one is red meat, with a high content of the mineral and fast absorption. This is by far the best dietary source of iron in a healthy diet, unless you are a vegetarian.
Another excellent source is egg yolk. However, it is also rich in cholesterol so it should be consumed with caution, especially by people who already have a heart condition.
Among the vegetal sources, green leafy vegetables such as spinach are very rich in iron without any side effects. The mineral is also found in other products, like lentils, squash, pumpkin seeds, soybeans and broccoli. Various dry fruits such as raisins or figs are also rich in iron.
Some types of seafood are great diet choices as well. These include fish roe but also several types of shellfish and molluscs.
Cereals are another rich source and they are both a popular breakfast option and useful in weight loss diets as well. While rich in iron and delicious to eat, chocolate must be consumed with caution to avoid becoming overweight.
To indirectly increase the intake of iron, a proper supply of vitamin C is also very helpful. This vitamin increases the absorption rate of iron in the body.