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Iron is a mineral that is naturally present in many foods. It is also added to some food products and available as a dietary supplement. It is an essential component of hemoglobin, an erythrocyte (red blood cell) protein that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. As a component of myoglobin, another protein that provides oxygen, iron supports muscle metabolism and healthy connective tissue. It is also necessary for physical growth, neurological development, cellular functioning, and synthesis of some hormones.