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How Is Iron Absorbed By The Body?

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Kath Senior answered
Iron taken into the body in food is absorbed in the small intestine. Only a small proportion of the iron in food is available for absorption and a healthy adult will only absorb about 10 per cent of the iron in his or her food.

The body will absorb iron better if its iron stores are generally low but when stores are adequate or on the high side, the body has mechanisms to reduce absorption because having too much iron in the body can produce toxic effects.

Absorption efficiency also depends on the type of food eaten; iron from animal sources is generally absorbed better than iron from plant sources. Absorption of heme iron from red meats and offal ranges from 15 to 35 per cent but between 2 and 20 per cent of iron in plant foods such as rice and beans is actually absorbed. Taking vitamin C at the same time can increased absorption of plant iron ~ so taking a glass of orange juice with your meal can mean more efficient iron uptake.

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