Iron Deficiency

November 16, 2020

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Signs, Symptoms, and More  

One of the most common deficiencies in the United States and around the world is iron deficiency. iron is a trace mineral - meaning you only need trace amounts of it on a daily basis - that is essential for red blood cells carrying oxygen throughout the body. Additionally, iron is essential for immune system functioning. It helps you fight infection!  

Unfortunately, iron is a heavy metal which makes it difficult for the body to naturally absorb. This is why it is fairly common to have an Iron deficiency. Having a deficiency is not the end of the world though; it just means that you are not getting enough in your diet. If left untreated though, iron deficiency can eventually turn into Iron deficiency anemia. The anemia occurs when there is not enough iron in the body to help produce hemoglobin which is the substance in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen throughout the body. Essentially, there are not enough red blood cells that can carry oxygen to your muscles, brain, organs, and bones.  

Below is a list of signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia: 

  • Unusual tiredness 

  • Paleness 

  • Shortness of breath  

  • Frequent headaches and dizziness 

  • Cold hands and feet 

  • Damaged hair and nails

If you are concerned with your iron levels or believe that you may have an iron deficiency, talk to your doctor. The first thing they will do is probably recommend consuming more iron-rich foods such as red meats, spinach, kale, iron-fortified cereals, and raisins. Normally, a doctor would recommend a supplement in the case of other various deficiencies, but with iron it is best to get it through food first. This is because iron supplements are known to produce a lot of undesirable gastrointestinal side effects such as upset stomach, nausea, and constipation. To learn more about iron, check out this NIH page about the micronutrients! 

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