Iron, thermoregulation, and metabolic rate

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1999 Mar;39(2):131-48. doi: 10.1080/10408399908500491.


Iron plays an important role, not only in oxygen delivery to the tissues, but also as a cofactor with several enzymes involved in energy metabolism and thermoregulation. As a result, much research has been dedicated to understanding the ramifications of iron depletion and iron deficiency anemia on the physiological functions of these enzymes. There is evidence to suggest that iron depletion and iron deficiency anemia cause physiological changes in the body not only during exercise, but also under resting conditions. Both rat and human studies have produced results revealing elevated levels of norepinephrine in the blood and urine of iron-deficient anemic subjects. These studies also provide evidence to suggest that elevation in metabolic rate may ultimately lead to slower growth rates and lower body weights in iron-deficient anemic animals and humans. The focus of this review is on the effects of iron deficiency on metabolic rate and thermoregulation. Prior to this discussion, a brief background on iron is presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism*
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / physiology*
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Kinetics
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Rats


  • Iron, Dietary
  • Iron
  • Glucose
  • Norepinephrine