Compare and contrast heme and nonheme iron.

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freemihai eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Iron is a mineral that carries oxygen from the lungs. Iron deficiency affects seriously the health. The human body contains about 4 grams of iron. Iron is found in every human cell and it is bound to proteins to carry oxygen, forming hemoglobin.

Iron is found in two forms in food consumption: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin and myoglobin found in animal tissues. Non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods and dairy products.

60% of iron in the body are under the form of red pigment or heme. Heme iron is found in meat and is much faster absorbed than non-heme iron. Iron is a zinc antagonist, therefore zinc RDA must be increased.

Non heme iron absorption from plants is improved by combining vegetables with meat or by increasing the vitamin C intake.

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