At the center of a hemoglobin molecule is iron and when combined with oxygen, it gives arterial blood its bright red color. Hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the tissues which need oxygen to maintain basic life functions. Iron is also necessary for the formation of myoglobin, found only in muscle tissue, which supplies oxygen to the muscle cells.
Significant amounts of iron can be lost during menstruation and needs are higher for pregnant women. Protein and vitamin C aid in the absorption of iron by chelating or attaching onto the iron ion and carrying it across the intestinal walls.
Excess iron can accumulate in the body to toxic levels. Take iron supplements only on the advice of a physician.