As expressed in the title, iron is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it is an essential nutrient. Virtually no multi-cellular organism can survive and grow without iron. In humans, it is important in oxygen transport, oxidation-reduction reactions and host defense.1 It is indispensable to have enough iron. On the other hand, it is a highly reactive element and the basis of all oxidation processes within living organisms. If iron is not confined, or if its oxidation reactions spiral out of control, it can produce severe damage to the organization.2 One should not have too much iron. Iron deficiency – failure to consume or absorb sufficient iron from the diet, or losing it through bleeding – are the routes to its nutritional deficiency. A consequence of iron deficiency is insufficient iron for the production of a normal volume of red blood cells. This results in iron deficiency anemia. Anemia prevalence in the world is estimated to be 1.32 billion people or about 25% of the world’s population.3 Not all of the anemia, however, is due to iron deficiency. International norms have been established for public health response to endemic anemia.4 These call for targeted population- wide interventions with iron and folic acid if 40% or more of the population segment is anemic.
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