The importance of iron as we age
Iron is a nutrient that is important for individuals of all ages. It’s important for aged care workers to know that getting more iron in old age is essential for good health
The role of iron is to regulate some of our vital bodily functions. Iron aids in maintaining healthy enzymes, producing energy, transporting oxygen throughout the body and optimising the effectiveness of the immune system.
While people of any age can be deficient in iron, it is especially important to get more iron in old age. Let’s look at the reasons for this.
Why iron is important for older individuals
Diet issues commonly cause iron deficiency in young people; they are simply are likely not consuming enough iron.
The reasons why older Australians can have iron deficiency can relate to diet but also:
- Blood loss
Because of the range of causes of low iron levels in older people, doctors will often explore underlying causes for the iron deficiency.
Sources of iron in old age
There are two types of dietary iron. These are haem and non-haem, with haem being absorbed from consuming red meat products and non-haem from plant food sources.
For haem iron, which we absorb more iron from, look to meats, especially red meat to incorporate dietary iron into meal plans.
Non-haem sources can include beans, lentils, whole eggs, nuts and seeds, whole grains and iron fortified cereals.
Around 8mg per day is recommended dietary iron intake for men over 19 and women over 51 to ensure bodies maintain adequate iron levels.
An iron supplement may be supplied to assist in increasing the body’s iron levels, which will ordinarily come in tablet form and can be purchased over the counter or is prescribed by a doctor. It is always best to refer to a doctor’s recommendations to tackle iron deficiency, regardless of age as too much iron can be harmful.