Iron is an essential mineral that helps blood to complete its many important functions. At normal levels inside the body, iron supports the production of new red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen, nutrients, and immune system factors to every part of the body.
Around 70 percent of the iron in the body is found in red blood cells. However, as a result of certain blood disorders, donating blood, or a diet that lacks a natural source of iron, an iron deficiency may occur and result in a condition known as anemia.
But it’s not just iron that is important for blood. Vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate) and B12 work with iron to help support normal blood productions as well as many other important functions inside the body.
Below we’ll look more at the many roles that iron plays in the body and how the use of certain supplements may support feelings of health and wellness throughout your life.
The Importance of Blood Health
Understanding what we need to support blood health isn’t always obvious. In part because we rarely see it, thankfully; but also because blood is more than just a collection of red cells.
Donating blood is a good example of how complex blood is and why we need to support it. When you donate blood, you are actually giving someone else these very important parts of the body:
- Platelets – Fragments that prevent or stop bleeding and make blood appear red when oxygenated.
- Plasma – The liquid portion of blood that regulates blood pressure, suspends and carries nutrients, and transports immune factors throughout the body.
- Cryoprecipitated Antihemophilic Factor (Cryo) – A portion of plasma that carries certain platelet types, as well as fibrinogen that helps to form replacement tissue at the source of blood loss.
- Immune Factors – This portion of blood is made up of white cells and granulocytes, which are important for destroying bacteria, viruses, and fighting against existing disease in the body.
Each pint of blood that you donate is about 55% plasma, 45% red blood cells, and less than 1% is white blood cells and platelets. Blood can be processed down to its different components to be given for specific treatments, or the whole collection of blood may be given to people who have sustained significant blood loss.
When blood loss occurs, we need new blood to replace what is missing. This can be done through an infusion of matching donor blood, or with the use of supplements as we’ll discuss in the next section.
After donating blood, sustaining blood loss, or if you have a blood disorder, a doctor may recommend a treatment that includes an iron supplement. This is because hemoglobin, a protein in that is responsible for carrying oxygen, requires iron to develop and function properly.
A lack of blood or an iron deficiency can result in anemia. Tests can confirm if you are anemic, but if you aren’t sure if you need to seek medical help, you can look for some of the common symptoms of anemia, which include:
- Trouble exercising because of shortness of breath
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
- Cold extremities
- Brittle nails
- Cravings for ice, dirt, or starch
- Poor appetite
For optimal blood health, you may want to look at other options to combine with iron. For example, vitamin B9 and B12, and even vitamin C may aid with the absorption of iron and support the development of new red cells. In the next section we’ll briefly look at good sources of iron and other nutrients in foods and supplements.
Food And Supplements With Iron
Aim to meet your dietary needs through food before you start taking a supplement. If you aren’t sure where to get the iron you need each day, consider these foods:
- Red meat, pork, chicken, turkey, animal liver
- Fish and shellfish
- Dried fruit
- Green leafy vegetables
- Beans, peas, nuts
- Iron-fortified bread and cereal
If you struggle to get enough of these foods, or you feel your aren’t meeting your iron goals, you may need to consider a supplement. You have several options from reliable manufacturers for your iron, and vitamin B9 and B12 needs. Keep reading to see our recommended picks for nutritional supplement below.
Iron Support From Klaire Labs
Chewable Iron Chelate from Klaire Labs is a cherry flavored, once daily chewable iron supplement with a form of iron that is believed to provide optimal absorption, promote abdominal comfort, and may not cause disruptions to bowel regularity when compared to some other formulas.
Vitamin B9 From Pure Encapsulations
Folic Acid from Pure Encapsulations contains vitamin B9, also known as folic acid and folate, and may help to fill nutritional gaps due to a diet that lacks certain food groups. Vitamin B9 is essential for everyone, especially pregnant mothers, and may help to maintain the normal development of blood cells in the body.
Vitamin B12 From Jarrow Formulas
Methyl B-12 5000 Mcg from Jarrow Formulas is a chewable lozenge that provides a form of vitamins B12 known as methylcobalamin that research shows is more easily absorbed and retained than other forms of B12. This formula delivers more than 80,000% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin B12 for optimal support of a healthy body.
Remember, before you make changes to your diet or start taking a supplement, consult with your doctor to make sure it is safe. While you can be deficient in certain nutrients, it is possible to take too many.
Once your doctor approves any changes, shop for your supplements from trusted brands, like Klaire Labs, Pure Encapsulations, and Jarrow Formulas. With a healthy diet and a combination of supplements, you may provide your blood the support it needs, as well as support for feelings of health and wellness every day!