Should You Be An Ironman?

Oct 5 18:23 2008 Helena Ederveen Print This Article

From the time we are kids, we are told that eat our spinach - iron is good for us. While dietary beliefs are constantly changing, this one still holds true. Bu there can be too much of a good thing.

We have all grown up with images of Popeye the Sailor Man. All he needed to do to become strong,Guest Posting really strong, was to eat spinach. The story of Popeye has been used by many generations of mothers to get their children to eat this most unpopular of vegetables. Leaving the comic book exaggeration aside, there is no doubt that spinach is good for the body. Many of us also know that the reason why it is good is because it contains iron. But our knowledge stops there. Few of us know why iron is not just good but essential for the growth and health of the body.

We also know that proteins are essential for the body. They give us energy. Sportsmen consume high protein diets, like pasta, especially before a sporting event. Two staples needed for the body, iron and proteins. But how many of us know the close connection between the two and how they function and interact to contribute to our physical well being. Lets have a look.

The human body needs iron to make hemoglobin and myoglobin. These are proteins that carry oxygen through the body. Food, water and air are the essentials of life. You can live a few days without food or water, but not even 5 minutes without air. And the part of air that you body needs is oxygen. Hemoglobin is found in the blood and myoglobin is in the muscles. Iron is also needed for the muscle building and regeneration process. Free iron is not good for the body as it assists in the formation of disease causing free radicals. Organisms therefore store the iron as ferritin which is bound to various tissues and is thus controlled by the body. The largest concentration of ferritin bound iron is found the liver, the spleen and bone marrow. The body uses up iron and it needs to be constantly replaced through a proper diet. The liver has the ability to store some excess iron which is available to the body to make up for a temporary shortage.

Iron is essential to life because of its ability to function both as an electron donor and acceptor. The transfer of electrons from donor to acceptor within tissue and muscle cause the release of energy. A low iron level in the body results in a lower transfer of electron which in turn leads to a loss of energy. That is one of the reasons why energy drinks contain iron.

But iron can also be potentially dangerous to the body. If the iron is not stored a ferritin and is thus bound to the cell, whether in the blood or tissue, it will have a chemical reaction with hydrogen peroxide, which is a by product of the body's organic processes and which is harmlessly decomposed by enzymes (more on this later) in the system. An excess of iron will be beyond the ability of the enzymes to handle and the resulting chemical reaction between iron and hydrogen peroxide will result in the in the creation of the free radicals referred to earlier. Besides disease, these free radicals, which can be either molecules or atoms with unpredictable reactions, may also cause cell damage and are thought to be factors in the development of cancerous tissue damage. The body has difficulty in getting rid of excess iron. The recommended daily intake of iron is 15 milligrams a day for women and 10 milligrams for men. For children the amount of iron needed depends of diet and lifestyle. It is best to get expert nutritional advice on the amount of iron a child needs. Doctors advise that children should be given natural iron in their diets and not iron supplements.

In order to control the iron in the body, all organisms bind the iron, or ferritin, to proteins. Proteins are large (comparatively speaking - they are larger than atoms!) organic compounds take participate in all cell functions. In the case of iron, they control the control the amount of electron donor and acceptor activity and thereby limit the amount of excess activity that could cause free radical generation.

Many proteins are enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts that increase the rate of chemical reaction. Enzymes are present in every cell of a living organism and by facilitating the change in molecular structures of cells, allow for their development and regeneration. They are essential for the metabolic process. Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in all living organisms in order to maintain continued life. The process of metabolism allows organisms to respond to their environment, maintain themselves and grow and reproduce.

Proteins are an essential and all prevalent part of a living organism. Reading about and understanding them can difficult and confusing, not just because to the technical nature and complexity of the subject, but because of the overlapping and ambiguous terms such as peptide and polypeptide which are used in conjunction with proteins. A peptide can be generally referred to as an amino acid and a polypeptide as a complex chain of amino acids. Proteins are made of up polypeptides. The two terms are often interchangeable. Convention is that a short chain of enzymes are called peptides and longer more complex chains are called polypeptides. But there is room for confusion here because while long polypeptides such as those linked to Alzheimer's disease are called proteins; short protein chains such as insulin are called peptides.

Having gone through all the technical information above, the bottom line remains that a balanced diet with adequate quantities of both iron and protein are essential for the proper functioning of the human (or any other living) body. How much you need depends on genetics, lifestyle and habits. Its always a good idea to read up on nutrition or consult a nutritionist. Even a slight change in your dietary habits can do you a lot of good. Also, when getting a medical check up or consulting a doctor on account of feeling unwell, tell him about your diet. This will help the doctor to give you advice on staying healthy and may offer him some guidance in diagnosing your symptoms.

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Helena Ederveen
Helena Ederveen

Helena Ederveen, Clinical Nutritionist and expert in snoring remedies,sleep apnoea, fibromyalgia. Are you interested to learn more about how you can overcome sleep apnoea, snoring, fibromyalgia, excessive tiredness? Then talk for 30 minutes FREE to the expert Helena Ederveen Go to:"">snoring remedies

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