What you need to know about the different iron needs of men and women

When it comes to most essential vitamins and minerals, men’s bodies generally require more – but that’s not the case with iron.

At many stages of life women need up to twice the amount of iron as men, most of which comes down to differences in our reproductive capabilities.

First, the facts on iron

Iron is an essential mineral needed to help our red blood cells transport oxygen throughout our bodies and is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing.

While our bodies can store it, they can’t make it.

This means we need to get most of it from our food and there are two forms of dietary iron – heme iron and non-heme iron.

Heme iron comes from animal proteins in our diet and is found in meat, poultry, seafood and fish, while non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods like grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Why our iron needs differ

If you’re not getting enough iron in your diet, your iron stores will gradually run down.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world – in Australia more than one million people are lacking in iron or are anaemic.

At pretty much every stage of their lives, except after menopause, women need more iron than men because they lose it through menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Women and iron

When women have their periods, iron is depleted because of the loss of blood.

Menstruating women, aged 19 to 50 years, need around 18mg of iron a day, more than double the recommended amount for Australian men (8mg).

During pregnancy, the mineral is also very important because it helps form the placenta and supports the growth of the foetus.

On top of all that, the iron being supplied to a new baby needs to last for six months after birth, which is why during pregnancy a woman’s iron intake needs to increase to a whopping 27mg each day.

The iron needs of men

Women and men metabolise iron at roughly the same rate, however it’s a common misconception that only women can be iron deficient.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic say men who have a poorly balanced vegetarian diet, donate blood frequently or have internal bleeding can be at risk.

Iron can also be lost from the body through heavy sweating, meaning sporty men can suffer from low iron that can leave them feeling lethargic and unable to perform at their best.

Boosting your iron supplies

While upping your iron intake can be difficult from diet alone, supplements can help.

GO Healthy’s GO Iron 1-A-Day is suitable for both women and men and contains the highly bioavailable Ferrochel® iron for better absorption and is gentle on the gastrointestinal tract.

Unlike other products on the market it’s unlikely to cause constipation, a common side effect that people associate with taking iron supplements.

GO Iron 1-A-Day also includes vitamin C to assist absorption and B vitamins to support energy production. As an added benefit, GO Iron 1-A-Day is vegetarian and vegan friendly.

*This post is brought to you by GO Healthy GO Iron 1-A-Day.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.