Iron is a mineral required for healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen to our tissues and organs. Iron also synthesises protein and DNA whilst supporting immune function. Poor gut health, inflammation, disease and nutritional combinations affect iron absorption, however Vitamin C is a powerful enhancer of iron absorption and regulates iron metabolism .
Anaemia is a condition where your body has a lower number of red blood cells and the most common cause is not having enough iron available to create red blood cells . Therefore, supporting iron absorption is of high priority, especially for people with low amounts of iron, or iron deficiency anaemia.
Certain dietary compounds such as tannins and phytates inhibit iron absorption. Vitamin C overcomes these inhibitors when included in the diet by helping bind iron within the gut .
Dietary iron from animal and plant-based sources has varying absorbency rates, with plant-based options being more difficult to absorb. Increasing the intake of vitamin C helps to increase the bioavailability, especially of plant-based foods .
Iron Absorption References
- Lane, D, J, R. & Richardson, D, R. (2014). The active role of vitamin C in mammalian iron metabolism: Much more than just enhanced iron absorption!, Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 75, 69-83. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.07.007.
- Southern Cross. (2019). Iron deficiency anaemia. Retrieved from https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/medical-library/iron-deficiency-anaemia.
- Ems, T., St Lucia, K, & Huecker, M. R. (2021). Biochemistry, Iron Absorption. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448204/.