Iron: the source of power

Jun 30, 2021

Have you ever felt tired, or weak? Maybe you have experienced a lack of Iron. Yes, because a decreased concentration of iron leads to a lack of hemoglobin, whose most important function is oxygen transport. Without the right amount of oxygen, all your muscles do not have enough energy to perform the various activities and leaves you tired. Nowadays tiredness and weakness are very common symptoms, so, for doctors, it is not always easy to find out the iron deficiency. So, iron could be considered the source of power!  The heart, one of the most important muscles, without oxygen must perform an increased activity so this could lead to palpitation and chest pain. Probably one of the most important organs affected by anemia is the brain; in fact, iron deficiency is associated with a decrease in cognitive development, especially in children (0-15 years). This is caused by the fast growth that requires a high concentration of iron and leads to a depletion in the stored concentration. Also, decreased cognitive function is manifested in adults with iron deficiency, especially in women, while in the elderly population the risk is connected with early dementia. 

Do you know what does give the blood cells their red color?

You guess it right, it is a hemoglobin-Iron complex of course! So, what does happen when we have a lack of iron? Cells became paler, which in turn causes paleness of the skin. Also, immune response, oral lesions, hair loss, and nail abnormalities are linked to DNA replication and cell cycle caused by a low concentration of iron. So, to have health as strong as iron, you must improve the concentration of iron itself. However, this is not easy for everyone. In fact, there are some groups of people who are more likely to develop anemia. It is known that women who have heavy menstrual bleeding have a higher risk to be hospitalized due to anemia. Also, during a delicate period such as pregnancy, the requirement of iron is higher due to the expansion of maternal red cell mass and the growth of the fetus and placenta. In fact, lower iron concentrations are linked to preterm labor, low neonatal weight, and perinatal complications. 

Furthermore, elderly people who are usually affected by many comorbidities are more at risk even with mild anemia that is linked to chronic heart failure, increase in cardiovascular mortality, and decreased quality of life. In addition, patients affected by chronic inflammatory conditions could have an exacerbation and deterioration of their disease. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. So, the treatment of this deficit is fundamental to normalize hemoglobin concentration in order to improve quality of life, symptoms, and the prognosis of chronic disorders. There are two possible approaches. The first one is to increase the intake of iron by food supplements. However, have you ever tried it? Generally, iron supplements are known to have bad taste and causing nausea, vomit, diarrhea, constipation, and so on. This leads to one of the most relevant problems in iron deficiency treatment: compliance. In fact, many people do not follow the therapy or interrupt it. Considering that hemoglobin concentrations start rising from the second week of supplement intake, the therapy must be followed constantly to have beneficial effects. This is not a problem that can be underestimated, because bad management could lead to a lot of complications like the ones described earlier. Furthermore, iron depletion is usually linked to malabsorption disease, like celiac disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, or even a dysbiosis in the intestinal microflora, being the latter very difficult to diagnosticate. In these cases, even with iron supplementation, the body is not able to absorb it, so iron levels do not increase, and common side effects appear. Also, intravenous iron therapy is not always an easy way to manage anemia and has low compliance as well.

What can you do?

Instead, the second approach consists of increasing iron absorption by using something that could help your intestine increase its bioavailability. Alpha-lactalbumin is a very special milk protein present in the colostrum and human milk, acting as an absorption enhancer that helps your body absorb dietary iron. So, it can reduce the side effects associated with oral iron supplements. This is confirmed by two clinical studies that show the use of Alpha-lactalbumin increases the concentration of Hemoglobin without side effects. Moreover, alpha-lactalbumin also has a prebiotic effect that helps your “good bacteria” grow and reestablish the right homeostasis that helps your gut work better. That’s not all, because alpha-lactalbumin has an immune-modulating action that is very helpful in chronic inflammation disease.   

Conclusion

In conclusion, iron deficiency anemia is one of the most problematic dietary depletion, in particular to some groups of people. So, to treat this deficiency is fundamental to consider all of the possible causes of this pathology. At this time alpha-lactalbumin could be used as a bioavailability enhancer to increase the iron dietary intake and avoid the side effect of iron supplementation. Bear in mind that Iron is fundamental as a source of power for your body, and it mustn’t be depleted. 

References 

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