What is Iron Deficiency? The Symptoms & treatment.

Updated: 2 days ago

In this blog post, you will learn about Iron and its important role within your body. you will also learn about iron deficiency, its symptoms, treatment and the best ways to prevent it from happening.

Non-heme Iron Rich food
Non-heme Iron Rich food

What is iron and why is it so important?

Iron is an essential mineral which means your body can not produce it itself and it has to get it from foods that you consume. One of the irons responsibilities is to help red blood cells to carry oxygen all-around of our body.

Each of our red blood cells has a protein called haemoglobin. each haemoglobin has four places that can carry oxygen. Imagine our red blood cells as a car with four seats. For oxygen to be placed on the seats of our car we need to open the doors first. Without an open-door oxygen can not be placed on their seats. So here it comes an Iron molecule.
Iron molecule will open the door for our oxygen molecule to sit on the car’s seat and to be carried all around our body. So, without an Iron it is not possible for oxygen to be carried to our body.

Now you notice that If we don’t have enough iron molecule in our body the result will be less oxygen can be carried out to our body cells. So as the result you will experience symptoms such as:

• Extreme fatigue
• Weakness
• Pale skin
• Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
• Headache, dizziness or light-headedness
• Cold hands and feet
• Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
• Brittle nails
• Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
• Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia

The daily recommended value of Iron for a male adult is around 8mg and for a female adult is around 18mg. Generally women need to consume more Iron due to the loss of blood in their monthly period.

The interesting thing about our body is that, our body can store between 1 to 3 grams of Iron in the liver. So, when we eat more of something that contains Iron, our body store the extra amount for the rainy days. Isn’t it smart?

What are natural Sources of Iron?

Now let’s look at the natural sources of Iron. There are 2 types of Irons, one is heme iron which can be found in animal products such as shellfish, liver, organ meats, poultry, fish and eggs.

Second type is non-heme iron which can be found in vegetables such as chickpeas, broccolis, tofu, quinoa, seeds such as pumpkin seed, beans, fortified cereals, nuts such as walnuts and pistachios and leafy greens such as spinach.

Heme iron Rich food Oyster
Heme iron Rich food Oyster

If in your daily diet you have none of the above or only a small portion of them then you are at risk of having iron deficiency.

Heme iron is the richest and most efficiently absorbed type, As none-heme iron is not as easily absorbed it is recommended to eat none-heme iron foods with a food that contains vitamin C as this help the none-heme iron to be absorbed properly.

If you noticed that you have any of the symptoms mentioned earlier and your diet does not consist any of the foods included above, then I really recommend you to find out if you have iron deficiency.

Non-heme iron Rich food Spinach
Non-heme iron Rich food Spinach

How to identify if you have iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency can be identified by a simple blood test. As you know there are different types of blood test to diagnose different health issues. The blood test that can be used to diagnose iron deficiency is a red blood cell count test.

This is normally part of a full count blood cells which consider all of your blood cells including red, white and platelets. Normally, when you are diagnosed with Iron deficiency after a blood test taken, you doctor will give you High doses of Iron supplement to be taken to cover the deficiency.

What you can do to prevent Iron deficiency?

Firstly, look at your diet and see if you take any of the foods mentioned earlier on a daily basis. If you don’t take much of these foods just because you don’t like them or if you are a vegetarian, then you should consider taking iron supplements instead. Iron Supplement can be purchased in most pharmacies in the UK or in any online store.

Remember not to overload your body with iron supplements as excess amount of Iron will damage the liver and other parts of your body, and if you have any of the above symptoms make sure to visit your doctor first for a blood test.

Iron Supplement
Iron Supplement

The absorption rate of Iron found in foods from animals is higher than the one in vegetables. So, if you are a vegetarian and would like to absorb more of the irons you take daily. You should consider eating those veggies with another foods that contains Vitamin C.

The reason behind it, is Because vitamin C will increase the absorption rate of Iron by 67%. Vitamin C has a crucial Role with in our body and without vitamin C The Iron can not be absorbed, so you have to make sure that You intake the required daily amount Of vitamin C. Unlike iron, vitamin C can not be stored in the body and should be taken on a daily basis.

Vitamin C and Iron can be found in different forms and shapes. There are chewable form as well as capsules, tablets, Gummies and powder. Some companies have gone one step further and they made a supplement which has Iron and vitamin C all in one capsule.

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