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Understanding Iron Nutrition for Men

Fitday Editor

Understanding iron nutrition for men is important in order to ensure proper amounts of iron intake per day, for optimal health. Getting enough iron is important, but too much can also be a problem. Iron minerals have important functions in the body, which is why everyone needs a certain amount of iron per day. Use Fitday to track your iron intake.

Why Is Iron Important?

The main purpose of iron is to help in the transportation and storage of oxygen to all parts of the body. In addition, iron assists in energy production and cell respiration, while also helping the immune and central nervous systems.

Daily Recommended Dosage of Iron for Men

Men should generally take 8 to 10 milligrams of iron per day for optimal health. It is generally recommended that men get their iron from food sources only, and not from supplementation. This is because a man's body absorbs the iron quite efficiently, without much chance of iron loss. In contrast, women lose iron very easily through the blood loss experienced through menstruation. Men, on the other hand, are much better off getting their iron from food sources.

Sources of Iron

The following is a list of iron-rich food sources and their associated iron content:

  • Beef (3 oz.): 3 mg
  • Turkey (0.75 cup): 2.6 mg
  • Liver (3 oz.): 8 mg - 25 mg
  • Dried fruit (half cup): 2.4 mg
  • Broccoli (1 cup): 1.4 mg
  • Green beans (1 cup): 1.6 mg
  • Peas (1 cup): 2.6 mg
  • Potato: 4 mg
  • Sunflower seeds (1 oz.): 1.4 mg
  • Brown rice (1 cup): 0.8 mg
  • Oatmeal (1 cup): 1.6 mg
  • Bran cereal (1 cup): 6.3 mg

Dangers of Excess Iron in Men

Although iron is a healthy mineral used for various bodily functions, it should not be consumed in excess. Men who take too much iron increase their risk of developing heart disease and cancer.

Cancer and Excess Iron in Men

Too much iron in the body can promote cancer by producing free radicals and feeding cancer cells. Free radicals cause damage to cells and tissue by interfering with important cellular components, such as DNA and the cell membrane. Since DNA controls the function of the cells, these cells become out of control, and become cancerous. The cancer cells grow and multiply rapidly, and feed off of nutrients, such as iron. The more iron in the body, the more the cancer cells will thrive. Research suggests that the production of free radicals is in direct proportion to the amount of iron in the body. Therefore, the higher the level of iron, the higher the rate of free radical production.

Heart Disease and Excess Iron

Free radicals responsible for cancer development can also be the culprit of heart disease in men. Free radicals can damage the cholesterol in the blood, which makes the cholesterol more likely to get lodged in the arteries and blood vessels. When the arteries that deliver oxygen and blood to the heart become blocked, the heart is in danger of having a heart attack due to tissue death from lack of nutrients and oxygen. Men with excess iron in their bodies are at higher risk of a heart attack, because of iron's role in the production of free radicals.

Iron is an essential nutrient that men should be consuming as part of their daily diet. Iron has an important role in various essential bodily functions. It is important to ensure proper amounts of iron, however, as too much can actually have detrimental affects on a man's health and well-being.

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