Iron is a mineral that has many different roles in the body. It is particularly important for making haemoglobin; a protein contained in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body. Iron also plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
People with mild iron deficiency often feel tired, lacking in energy and tend to be more susceptible to infections. With more severe iron deficiency (called iron deficiency anaemia) symptoms such as heart palpitations, brittle nails, thinning hair, itchy skin (pruritus) and mouth sores or ulcers can develop.
Iron has a low bioavailability, meaning that the small intestine does not readily absorb large amounts. This decreases its availability for use and increases the likelihood of deficiency.