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Name: Cynthia R.
Status: Student
Age: 19
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

Is there actual a chemical reaction that breaks down iron 3 in the body, the iron recieved from fortified cereals does it serve a purpose?

Hi Cynthia! Iron is essential to human life and one must take it from several sources besides fortified cereal. The oxygen carriers in vertebrates are the proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin.

Hemoglobin also plays a vital role in the transport of carbon dioxide and hydrogen atom. The capacity of these proteins to bind oxygen depends on the presence of a non plypeptide group, called heme. Heme consists of an organic part and an iron atom. The organic part, protoporphyrin has 4 nitrogens in the center of its ring , and the iron binds to the 4 nitrogens in a coordinate way.

The iron atom in the heme can be in the ferrous (+2), or ferric (+3) oxidation state, forming respectively ferrohemoglobin and ferrihemoglobin. Only ferrohemoglobin can bind oxygen carrying it away from the lungs to the tissue cells, through the arterial blood.

An thanks for asking NEWTON! Tell your friends about it!

(Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)

Iron is recirculated in the body through the reticuloendothelial system (spleen etc.) and a series of shuttle proteins bind iron ...apoferritin and ferritin are two of the carrier proteins if I remember correctly.

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Office of Science
Department of Energy

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