Iron Absorption

Iron absorption

Ensuring that your body effectively absorbs iron is crucial for maintaining good health and avoiding problems related to low iron levels. Iron is important for your health because it helps carry oxygen in your blood, supports red blood cells, and helps cellular energy production. Also, iron is needed for cognitive function, a strong immune system, and for keeping your skin, hair, and nails healthy.

Learning about the factors that affect how your body uses iron can help you pick the right foods and take care of yourself. Whether you eat iron-rich foods or take iron pills, it’s important to know about the different types of iron and how your body uses them. Whether you need more iron or just want to stay healthy, knowing about iron absorption can help you make smart choices about what you eat and how you live.

Where Is Iron Absorbed?

Iron absorption, an important process for your body, happens mainly in the upper part of the small intestine. This area is called the duodenum and the upper jejunum. The small intestines are in your abdominal area, positioned between the stomach and the large intestines. They are coiled inside the abdomen and are crucial for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients from it.Your body’s digestive system makes sure this happens correctly by taking into account the type of iron and the acidity of the stomach.

The iron absorption process is really important because iron helps you to transport oxygen to all parts of your body, giving you the energy you need for your daily life.

Iron absorption

What Are The Different Types Of Iron?

Iron comes in two different types: heme iron and non heme iron. Heme iron comes from animal sources, whereas non heme iron comes from plant sources. Heme iron is absorbed by the Heme Carrier Protein 1 receptor, which only absorbs heme iron. Non heme iron, on the other hand, is absorbed through the Divalent Metal Transporter 1 receptor. This receptor also absorbs other metals so the non heme iron has to compete for this pathway.

As a result, heme iron is absorbed more efficiently by your body.

Iron is also stored in your body as ferritin, mainly in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. A protein called transferrin helps move iron throughout your body to the places that need it. The role of iron in your growth, energy, and health is very important.

How To Increase Iron Absorption?

If your diet includes primarily non heme iron sources, then vitamin C can help increase its absorption. Drinking orange juice with your meals or when taking non heme iron supplements is one way to incorporate vitamin C in your diet. Besides this, you have to decrease your intake of coffee and tea as caffeine reduces non heme iron absorption rates.

Does Vitamin C Increase Heme Iron Absorption?

If you are wondering if vitamin C can help your body absorb heme iron better, then the answer is no. Heme iron is absorbed through a dedicated receptor and at higher rates than non heme iron. As a result, vitamin C does not increase heme iron absorption.

Does Caffeine Decrease Heme Iron Absorption?

The caffeine in coffee and tea does not decrease heme iron absorption. It does decrease the absorption of non heme iron though. If you are taking heme iron supplements, then you don’t have to give up your daily coffee or tea habit.


Understanding iron absorption is essential for maintaining good health and preventing complications related to low iron levels. Iron plays a vital role in carrying oxygen, supporting red blood cells, and aiding in cellular energy production. It also contributes to cognitive function, a strong immune system, and the health of skin, hair, and nails.

Iron is mainly absorbed in the upper part of your small intestine, and this shows how important the digestive system is in the process.  Furthermore, being aware of the two types of iron – heme iron from animal sources and non heme iron from plant sources – and how they are absorbed differently provides insight into effective iron intake.

By understanding iron absorption you can make informed choices about your diet and lifestyle. In turn, you can ensure optimal iron levels, promote overall well-being, and support your body’s growth, energy, and health.


PubMed Central (PMC): The Absorption Rate of Iron and How Different Factors Might Influence Iron Bioavailability

PubMed Bookshelf: Iron

Healthline: How to Increase Iron Absorption: Tips and Factors

Mayo Clinic: Iron Deficiency Anemia – Symptoms and Causes

ACS Omega (American Chemical Society): Impact of Surface Termination on Structural, Electronic, and Optical Properties of Orthorhombic BiVO4

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