Cold all the time? Feeling exhausted? Sounds like winter and stress right? Maybe you need to put on an extra jacket? Maybe the world of Covid quarantine is causing a ripple effect on your day to day life and making you exhausted?
Maybe you need more iron?
Sometimes it can be hard to separate a vitamin or mineral deficiency from everyday life. Especially when there are so many symptoms that can blend in with other elements of your life or be easily ignored. Sometimes you have to pay close attention to figure out what small symptoms might add up to be one or many vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Today let’s talk about iron deficiency.
Iron Deficiency Anemia Signs and Symptoms may include:
- Brittle nails
- Extreme fatigue
- A sore or swollen tongue
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Cravings for substances that will not provide nourishment such as ice or starch.
- Headaches, lightheadedness
- Poor appetite
- Dry and damaged hair and skin
- Restless legs
Why do I need iron?
Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, this is a protein in red blood cells that allows them to carry oxygen through your body.
Without enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t be able to work properly do to the lack of oxygen. This leads to anemia and the most common type is iron deficiency anemia.
Why is this happening?
In most cases your diet is what is preventing you from not having enough iron intake. An iron deficiency can also be caused by inflammatory bowel disease, blood loss though heavy periods or internal bleeding. If you’re pregnant you’ll need double the iron, this is because your body is producing more blood to supply oxygen to your baby. Iron is also super important for fetal brain development.
Causes of iron deficiency anemia include:
- A lack of iron in your diet. It is common for vegans and vegetarians to develop an iron deficiency because of the lack of heme iron in their daily diet. This can be fixed by eating iron-rich foods daily. It is also essential for the growth and development of infants and children.
- An inability to absorb iron. Celiac Disease is an intestinal disorder that can make it difficult or impossible for your body to absorb nutrients from digested food. Since, iron from food is absorbed into your bloodstream in your small intestine, sometimes an iron deficiency will actually help a doctor diagnose you with Celiac Disease.
- Pregnancy. With pregnancy your doctor will often recommend that you use an iron supplement, as well as eating iron rich foods. It is common for iron deficiency anemia to occur in many pregnant women because increased blood volumes will use any iron stores and more hemoglobin is needed for the growing fetus.
- Blood loss. We mentioned the possibility of developing an iron deficiency anemia because of heavy bleeding during menstruation. Internal bleeding can also cause an iron deficiency. Examples could be a peptic ulcer, a hiatal hernia, a colon polyp or colorectal cancer. It is also possible to have gastrointestinal bleeding from regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin.
If I do have an iron deficiency, how can I get more Iron naturally?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency, there are two types of iron rich foods you can add to your diet. The easiest for your body to absorb is heme iron which is from animals (lean meat, poultry & fish). Non-animal iron is called non-heme iron. These are still good for you but not only do you need more of it, you should also take it with vitamin C-rich foods to help your body absorb the iron.
Heme Iron Foods
- Red meat
- Canned sardines
Non-heme Iron Foods
- White beans
- Firm tofu
- Kidney beans
- Pumpkin seeds
Enhance your iron absorption with these vitamin c-rich foods.
- Leafy greens
When to see a doctor:
Left untreated, an iron deficiency can develop into iron deficiency anemia and result in heart problems, depression, pregnancy issues and a higher chance of infections. Only take iron supplements if your doctor prescribes them, as too much iron can damage your heart, liver and pancreas.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide.
Some people will experience no symptoms while others will experience one or more of the ones listed in the blog. Most forms of this deficiency can be treated with an iron-rich diet and or iron supplements (if recommended from your doctor).
Don’t hesitate to keep a food diary. This can help you self diagnose an iron deficiency or possibly other mineral or vitamin deficiencies. Write down your symptoms, what you’ve had for meals throughout the day in detail.
It’s amazing how different you can feel depending on what you eat, if you take the time to notice.
This content is strictly the opinion of S’moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S’moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.