The Trace Element Iron

Author: Theres Eisenreich ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎|‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎Published: 6. July 2022‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎|‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎Updated: 6. July 2022


The Trace Element Iron

Iron is not only the most common metal found on the earth's surface, but it is also a vital trace element without which we cannot exist. It is involved in various processes in the body, but one of its main tasks is to contribute to the transport of oxygen through the organism.

What Exactly Does Our Body Need Iron For?

Our body cannot produce iron itself, so we have to take it in through our food. The intestine is the central absorption point for the trace element. It occurs in various compounds, but only the bivalent (Fe2+) and trivalent (Fe3+) iron are important for our body.

Iron is an essential building block of haemoglobin (red blood pigment) and is therefore significantly involved in the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the corresponding tissues. Excess iron is stored in the muscles, liver and spleen, among other places. If there is enough iron, it contributes to physical and mental performance and reduces tiredness and fatigue. It also ensures healthy functioning of the immune system and is involved in cell division.

In addition, iron plays an outstanding role in signal transmission between the nerve cells. Here, neurotransmitters are the messenger substances through which the nerve cells communicate with each other. Iron is involved in the production of these neurotransmitters.

Schaubild zu den Wirkungsweisen von Eisen im Körper

Risk Groups For Iron Deficiency

An iron deficiency can occur above all in special life situations or circumstances. The risk group primarily includes women of childbearing age who menstruate regularly and perhaps heavily. In addition, pregnancy and breastfeeding also require more of the trace element. Therefore, special attention is paid here gynaecologically.

But competitive athletes, especially those in the endurance field, also have a particular tendency to iron deficiency. Microhaemorrhages in the tissue can be to blame, but increased muscular strain, increased sweating and reduced iron absorption in the intestine due to constant physical stress can also promote an iron deficiency.

Due to their diet, vegetarians and vegans also belong to the risk group for iron deficiency, as they lack animal foods as well-bioavailable sources of iron. But people who donate blood, are chronically ill or have had an operation also belong to the risk group for iron deficiency, as do growing children or babies who are not breastfed.

Difference: Iron Deficiency And Iron Deficiency Anaemia

One speaks of an iron deficiency when the body has too little of the trace element for its daily needs. Sometimes it happens that the usual diet does not cover the amount of iron needed. The daily iron requirement is also increased in the special (life) situations mentioned above. All these factors can lead to an iron deficiency and subsequently to a disorder of the iron metabolism. An iron deficiency can occur when:

• You lose a lot of iron, for example during menstruation or other bleeding periods
• You have an increased need for iron, such as during pregnancy or breastfeeding
• Iron absorption is reduced, as can be the case with vegan or vegetarian diets

Iron deficiency anaemia, also called anaemia, describes a disorder of the entire haematopoietic system, which can develop due to an iron deficiency. The red blood cells and haemoglobin are reduced because the previous iron deficiency causes a disturbance in the production of the red blood pigment haemoglobin.

Iron deficiency and the symptoms

These symptoms can indicate an iron deficiency, among other things:

• Frequent fatigue
• Powerlessness
• Lack of concentration
• Frequent headaches
• Sleeping disorders
• Fast heartbeat
• Shortness of breath during exertion/sport
• Brittle nails and hair as well as hair loss
• Torn corners of the mouth (rhagades)
• Paleness

Anyone who observes these symptoms should have a blood check done by a doctor or therapist to detect or rule out an iron deficiency.

Übersicht der Symptome eines Eisenmangels

Avoid self-diagnosis of iron deficiency

As the table below shows, boys and men need less iron than girls and women from the age of 10. For this reason, the male sex should at best not take iron in addition without a doctor's instruction. But girls and women should not diagnose themselves with an iron deficiency simply because they have a few typical symptoms. A blood count and a therapeutic recommendation for additional iron supplementation should be made in advance.

These parameters can be checked when an iron deficiency is suspected

To be sure that an iron deficiency is really present, a look is taken at the blood serum, the blood plasma or even the whole blood, depending on the parameter examined.


Iron-containing protein; red blood pigment and main component of red blood cells

Normal values:
Women: 115-160 g/l
Men: 135-178 g/l


Percentage of all blood cells in total blood

Normal values:
Women: 36-48 vol%
Men: 40-53 vol%


Transport protein of iron in the blood to transport it to the tissues.

Normal values:
Transferrin: 2.0-3.6 g/l
Transferrin saturation* : 16-45 %.
Soluble transferrin receptor**: 0.8-2.3 mg/l

* Indicates how much of the transport protein has iron bound, how "saturated" it is.
** Is responsible for transporting transferrin into the cell.


Protein molecule within cells that can store iron; each ferritin molecule can store about 4,000 iron molecules.

Normal values:
16-19 years: 10-163 µg/l
20-60 years: 9-140 µg/l
over 60 years: ≥ 13 µg/l

16-19 years: 12-178 µg/l
20-60 years: 18-360 µg/l
over 60 years: ≥ 21 µg/l

Iron Requirement Per Day - Who Needs How Much?

Ideally, we get iron regularly from our food. The intestine is the central point of absorption of the trace element. It occurs in various compounds, but only the bivalent (Fe2+) and the trivalent (Fe3+) iron are important for our body. Unlike most other minerals, the requirement for iron changes over the course of a lifetime and is also dependent on gender:

Infants and children
(0 to under 4 months)
0.5 mg/day
(4 to under 12 months)
8 mg/day
(1 to under 7 years)
8 mg/day
(7 to under 10 years)
10 mg/day
Boys and girls
Boys (10 to under 15 years)  12 mg/day
Girls (10 to under 15 years) 15 mg/day
Adolescents and adults
Male adolescents (15 to under 19 years) 12 mg/day
Male adults (19 years and over) 10 mg/day
Female adolescents and adults (15 to under 51 years) 15 mg/day
Female adults (51 years and over) 10 mg/day
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Pregnant women 30 mg/day
Breastfeeding women 20 mg/day

Foods Containing Iron

People who eat a balanced diet usually automatically have a lot of iron-rich foods on their plates. Nevertheless, some provide more, others less of the vital substance. We will take a closer look at which foods have which iron levels in the following:

Plant-based foods Iron content (mg)
per 100 g food
Cocoa powder (lightly de-oiled) 12.0 - 15.0
Millet 9.0
Lentils 7.5
Chickpeas 6.9
Peas 5.2
Oatmeal 4.6
Green spelt 4.2
Spinach 4.1
Wholemeal bread 3.15
Animal foods Iron content (mg)
per 100 g food
Pork liver 18.0
Beef liver 7.1
Oysters 6.25
Blood sausage 6.1
Pork tenderloin 3.0
Turkey 3.0
Cured pork 2.5
Beef fillet 2.3
Eggs 2.1

Iron From Plant Or Animal Sources - What Is The Difference?

As you can see in the overview, the important trace element iron is contained in many foods - and especially in plant-based foods. Now, as a vegan or vegetarian, you might say: "Great, that's no problem to cover my daily requirement through food!" Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Because animal iron is actually much more bioavailable, i.e. better absorbed by the body, than iron from plant sources.

In the various foods, iron is present in two forms: as non-haem iron (mostly trivalent iron, Fe3+) and as haem iron (divalent iron, Fe2+, as a complex with the haem pigment of haemoglobin). Now, however, haem iron is better absorbed by the body and this is found exclusively in animal foods. In plants, only non-haem iron is present. This iron (mostly Fe3+) has to share its transporter in the intestinal cell membrane with other substances (for example, with zinc or magnesium) after conversion to Fe2+ and the body can therefore absorb it less easily. However, the intestinal cells have their own transporter for haem, and thus also for haem iron, so that this form of iron is better absorbed.

Vitamin C Can Improve Iron Absorption In The Body

To improve the body's absorption of non-haem iron from plant foods, vitamin C is the keyword. When iron-rich foods are combined with vitamin C-containing foods, the vitamin ensures that the iron is converted into a form that can be directly absorbed by the intestine. For example, vegetables containing vitamin C, such as kale, peppers or broccoli, or a glass of orange juice (pressed by oneself or as direct juice) with a meal are good choices. However, in order to actually positively influence iron absorption through vitamin C, a meal should contain at least 25 mg of the vitamin, preferably even more. This corresponds to about 100 g of ripe tomatoes or the same amount of raspberries.

Good to know: Sensitive vitamin C

If there is one thing that the valuable vitamin C does not like, it is high heat, long storage and a lot of light. All this drastically reduces the vitamin C content of a food. Therefore, gentle cooking or raw consumption and direct consumption after shopping of fruits and vegetables is highly recommended.

What Can Inhibit Iron Absorption?

However, iron absorption, especially from plant sources, can also be blocked. Here, the composition of the food during a meal plays a major role. For example, dairy products or also tannins from tea and coffee can hinder iron absorption. Oxalic acid, which is contained in rhubarb, among other things, also binds iron and makes it unusable for the body.

What Should You Look Out For When Taking Iron Tablets Or Capsules?

If you have a low iron status and want to take a preparation to safely replenish your stores, you should make sure that the preparation is well tolerated. Many iron products have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal tract and cause complaints such as stomach pain or constipation.

In addition, the dosage and release of iron also play an important role: Depending on the need and also deficiency state, the preparation should ensure a sufficient supply of iron, which is, however, released slowly. This is gentler on the digestive tract and prevents too much free iron from entering the bloodstream. If the iron is released too quickly, there is more iron in the blood than can be bound by transferrin (iron transporter). Consequently, free iron remains in the blood, which promotes the formation of harmful oxygen radicals (oxidative stress).

Die Verträglichkeit eines Eisenproduktes ist für den Magen-Darm-Trakt wichtig.

Discover The Iron Product From Tisso:
Pro Ferra Ferment


Tisso Blatt Trennlinie Mitochondrien Sekundäre Pflanzenstoffe

Tisso Telefon+49 27 62 98 36 – 20 08

If you have any questions or would like to place an order, we are happy to help you personally.
You can reach us by phone from Monday - Friday 9:00 - 17:00 h.

Tisso WhatsApp +49 (0) 27 62 - 98 36 - 0

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tisso Mail

You can email us at any time. We will reply within one working day.


Tisso Blatt Trennlinie Mitochondrien Sekundäre Pflanzenstoffe

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids

Read the guide
Vitamin D3, K2 & A

Vitamin D3, K2 & A

Read the guide
Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12

Read the guide

NEW from TISSO: Pro Lactoferrin Immun

Lactoferrin is one of the most important immune proteins in mothers' milk. It protects breastfed newborns from harmful germs and at the same time helps them to absorb sufficient iron. In the "adult" immune system, its iron-binding property also plays an important role. In addition, a whole range of other infection-preventing and immune-strengthening mechanisms are now known and documented.

The all-rounder protein is now also available as a TISSO formulation:

Read More

Easter Special 🐰 Bitters for the sweet tooth

With all the sweets and treats at Easter, our digestive organs have plenty to do. To avoid discomfort such as waking up at night after rich meals, you can help your liver to produce bile. All bitter plants are known to stimulate the detox organ and boost digestion. Our Pro Intest provides a balanced ratio of tried and tested herbs to help you support digestion and enjoy your meal without remorse.

With our Easter promotion starting today, you now get 1 bottle free on top when you buy 2 bottles of Pro Intest!

Read More

NEW: Pro Vita D3 10,000 – Vitamin D with depot effect

We are expanding our range of high-quality vitamin D3: From now on, the sun vitamin is also available from us as a practical high-dose capsule.

Only one capsule every 10 days: Pro Vita D3 10,000 provides 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 with a single capsule - the perfect alternative to our D3 oils for those who want to replenish their stores quickly but don't want to take drops every day. Of course, our new capsules also combine vitamin D3 with its two synergistic cofactors vitamin K2 and vitamin A.

Read More

Around the turn of the year Deliveries during the Christmas period, company holidays and VAT.

Christmas is near ‒ and soon VAT will increase again: from 1 January onwards VAT in Germany will return to the regular rate of 19 percent and the reduced rate, which also applies to most of our products, will again be 7 percent.

Since our company is closing for the Christmas holidays as of 23 December, don't miss this opportunity to order in time for Christmas and in time to get the reduced VAT rate.
All orders placed before 12 noon on 22 December will still receive the reduced rate and be dispatched on the same day.

Last order date 2020
Tuesday, 22.12.2020, 12 noon

Company holidays

Start of deliveries 2021
Monday, 04.01.2021

And now we wish you a wonderful winter and Christmas season and all the best for the New Year!

Your TISSO team

Read More

Lower VAT: oddly enough, these prices are real

You can get odd prices at TISSO now for half a year, because we are passing the reduced value added tax directly on to you from July.

Today the reduction in value added tax decided by the Federal Government comes into force. This means that the general rate will only be 16 percent by the end of the year instead of 19 percent. The reduced rate, which also applies to most TISSO products, will fall from 7 to 5 percent.

The online prices in the TISSO webshop apply!

The double re-labelling of all prices in all printed materials would be too costly and not environmentally friendly. So the price information in the catalogue, flyers and price lists remains unchanged.

With orders we automatically calculate the currently reduced value added tax rate in your favour.

For existing subscription deliveries, the value added tax will of course also be adjusted in the coming monthly or quarterly invoices.

We are giving the reduced gross prices to all customers within the EU.
This means that our customers in other EU countries will also benefit from the reduced prices during the temporary reduction in value added tax in Germany.


Flexible term for subscription deliveries

Customers can enter into the subscription offers from TISSO now, continually, without a minimum term.

The subscription deliveries are worthwhile especially for customers who regularly use TISSO products and would rather not have to think about placing a follow-up order on time. TISSO delivers the products automatically at your desired delivery interval and at an advantageous price as well.