Fundamentals of Human Nutrition/Iron
Iron is a mineral found in every cell of the body and does many things in our bodies. Iron is an integral part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health. In humans, iron is an essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport. For example, iron (as part of the protein hemoglobin) carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies. It is also essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. Almost two-thirds of iron in the body is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. Smaller amounts of iron are found in myoglobin, a protein that helps supply oxygen to muscle, and in enzymes that assist biochemical reactions. Iron is also found in proteins that store iron for future needs and that transport iron in blood. Iron stores are regulated by intestinal iron absorption.