Chances are you know iron is good for you, and we’re even willing to bet you can rattle off some of the foods that have the highest amount of iron in them (grass-fed steak or spinach, anyone?). But do you know of all the incredible things iron does for your body every day or why you need it in the first place?
Iron is an essential mineral, which means our bodies don’t produce it on their own. Instead, we get the iron we need each day through what we consume (i.e., diet and supplements)—and getting enough is crucial.
What are the health benefits of iron?
Iron is probably best known for its role in oxygen transport and energy metabolism.* While you might immediately think of your lungs as requiring oxygen (absolutely true), it turns out that all cells in the body need oxygen to function, and iron helps ensure cells are supplied with the energy they need to perform at their best.* (Even sex drive needs sufficient iron levels to rev up the way it should!)*
Iron is vital to the formation and function of red blood cells.* In fact, approximately 70% of the body’s iron can be found in hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells responsible for bringing oxygen from the lungs to other tissues) and myoglobin (muscle cells that store and release oxygen for working muscles).*
Iron also facilitates electron transfer in the respiratory chain in our cells and is therefore involved in the synthesis of ATP (i.e., the body’s primary energy transfer currency).* The thyroid, which plays a massive role in energy metabolism and whole-body health, also requires iron to function optimally.*
In regards to immune function, iron works with the thyroid to regulate cytokines (i.e., immune-supporting proteins involved in cell signaling) and also plays a key part in promoting a normal inflammatory response.*
And if those reasons weren’t enough to encourage you to up your iron intake, think on this: Iron homeostasis (aka balance) is vital to a number of cognitive and behavioral functions controlled by the brain, including the synthesis of neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline) and development of synapses (the points of contact between neurons where information is passed).* In other words, how your nerves talk to each other and transmit signals throughout the body!
Thanks to the brain’s high respiratory activity and energy requirements, iron is needed to maintain these functions and more throughout the central nervous system.*
Do I need iron in my multi?
We’ve outlined why iron is important, but how can we ensure we’re getting enough? In addition to adding iron-rich foods to your diet (and do consider that plant sources of non-heme iron are much less bioavailable than heme iron from animal sources), taking a high-quality multi that offers a rich source of iron (like mbg’s ultimate multivitamin+) is a great and no-fuss way to meet your daily iron needs.*
We include iron in our high-potency multi formula because it supports critical health functions and, unfortunately, is a nutrient gap for many—especially women of menstruating age, who lose iron through blood loss each month.* But that’s not where the iron story and focus ends. mbg’s multi formula is intentional about spreading the iron love because as it turns out, men and women both metabolize iron at the same rate and have important daily iron needs. Furthermore, postmenopausal women and older adults also have daily iron needs to meet. In summary, we all need iron, daily—for the critically important and whole-body health reasons explained above.*
The 9-milligram dose of iron included in our multi is optimized for non-pregnant women and men of all ages and delivered in the premium amino acid chelated form (ferrous bisglycinate chelate). One important caveat: If you’re pregnant, you’ll need an iron booster to bump up your total daily iron inputs to 27 milligrams daily. And for all, chelated minerals are more gentle and bioavailable because they are bound to an amino acid, making them more available for absorption in the gut.*
Iron is a crucial micromineral for various physiological functions across organ systems.* Whether you are a woman or man, young or older—you need iron each and every day to help your immune system, energy metabolism, and brain function as they should.* And that’s just the beginning.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.