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Iron deficiency (sideropenia or hypoferremia) is one of the most common of the nutritional deficiencies. Iron is present in all cells in the human body, and has several vital functions. Examples include as a carrier of oxygen to the tissues from the lungs in the form of hemoglobin, as a transport medium for electrons within the cells in the form of cytochromes, and as an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues. Too little iron can interfere with these vital functions and lead to morbidity and death.
The direct consequence of iron deficiency is iron deficiency anemia. Children and pre-menopausal women are the groups most prone to the disease.
Total body iron averages approximately 3.8 g in men and 2.3 g in women. In blood plasma, iron is carried tightly bound to the protein transferrin. There are several mechanisms that control human iron metabolism and safeguard against iron deficiency. The main regulatory mechanism is situated in the gastrointestinal tract. When loss of iron is not sufficiently compensated by adequate intake of iron from the diet, a state of iron deficiency develops over time. When this state is uncorrected, it leads to iron deficiency anemia.
This text uses material from Wikipedia and is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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