Women may have an increased need for iron because of blood loss during menstruation. During menstruation, a woman’s daily dietary needs are increased. Women who cannot meet their daily requirement may benefit from taking an iron supplement.
How do periods impact iron levels?
Monthly periods are the most common cause of iron loss worldwide. Research shows that women of childbearing age may need 2-3 times more iron than men. Among women who experience longer periods, especially in their 30’s and 40’s, adequate daily iron intake is particularly important and may be difficult to achieve with diet alone.
Can I always get enough iron from my food during periods?
You can get iron from food but it may not be absorbed well, and it may not be sufficient to meet your requirements due to menstruation. You can lose around 220 to 250 milligrams of iron per pint of blood lost during menstruation. Women can lose up to half a pint of blood during each menstrual cycle.
It’s important to remember that even if you are making a conscious effort to ingest more heme iron, by eating meat, most health authorities recommend a safe upper intake of only 500g of red meat per week. Also, other daily habits like drinking tea and coffee after your meals can reduce iron absorption and reduce your iron intake.
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Iron food fortification and oral iron supplements are limited by either poor absorption or poor tolerability. Very frequently, both occur together.
The reason for poor absorption is that only ferrous iron is absorbed using a highly regulated divalent metal transporter system (DMT-1), which works in tandem with the iron export protein ferroportin, which in turn is controlled by iron stores and haemoglobin levels…
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