Iron deficiency: Signs you’re not getting enough of this important mineral

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Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. Yet in the UK, 45% of people say they don’t know enough about an irondeficiency or how to know if they are deficient. In fact, 40% say they don’t know what their own iron levels are.

Here, the experts at Active Iron provide a roundup of seven signs you may have an iron deficiency plus four lifestyle choices that can rob you of iron – and some of them may surprise you!

1. You’re exhausted

Iron is essential for moving oxygen around the body, so one of the first signs of iron deficiency is constant tiredness. Having normal iron levels is important for the the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

2. Cold hands or feet

Believe it or not, cold hands and feet could be a sign of an iron deficiency as iron is needed by the body to generate heat.

3. You’re pale

Iron deficiency see’s red blood cell levels decline which can result in a visibly paler complexion. If your face, toes, fingertips, inside of your lips, your gums, and the inside of your bottom eyelids are less red than usual, low iron may be to blame.

4. You’ve got dry, brittle nails

Iron is necessary for healthy nail tissue growth. If you have noticed that your nails have ridges running down the length of them, or that they break or crack easily, it may be a sign that your iron levels are low.

5. Your tongue looks weird

If your tongue appears pale or smooth, it could be to lack of haemoglobin in the bloodstream which is a result of low iron levels

6. You get short of breath easily

Do you find that you are out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs or doing a low-key workout?Iron deficiency could be to blame.

7. You’re losing your hair

Iron is one of the most important minerals for your hair and so if you find your barnet is looking a little lacklustre, or you notice you are losing more hair than usual, iron deficiency may be an underlying factor.

4 lifestyle choices that can rob you of iron…

1. You regularly give blood

Blood donation removes iron from the body and may cause or contribute to low iron levels. Ensuring that your diet contains foods rich in iron – such as meat and/or green leafy vegetables – will help to keep you feeling well during and after donation.

2. You exercise regularly

During exercise, your body uses extra iron to help deliver oxygen around the body. If you exercise vigorously you may need up to 30 per cent more daily iron than non-exercisers.

3. You drink a lot of tea

Research has shown that tea and coffee consumption may reduce iron absorption. Avoid drinking tea just before, after or with meals as this may reduce the absorption of iron from foods.

4. You’re vegetarian

The body absorbs iron that comes from meat, poultry, and fish two to three times more efficiently than iron from plant based food. For this reason, people who follow a vegetarian diet are more likely to be deficient in iron.

AND finally, here are 3 reasons you could be at risk…

1. You have heavy periods

Women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period are at higher risk of iron deficiency.

2. You’re pregnant

During pregnancy, the females needs double the amount of iron that non-pregnant women. The body needs this iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. If sufficient iron stores are not in place, iron deficiency could occur.

3. You have coeliac disease

Iron deficiency is common among people who have undiagnosed coeliac disease as the body can’t absorb iron very well from food. In untreated coeliac disease, the lining of the gut is damaged by eating gluten, which in turn can reduce the absorption of nutrients such as iron.

Talking to your doctor or pharmacist should be your first port of call. Maintaining a diet rich in iron is also recommended and for those with iron deficiency, taking an iron supplement may be needed to boost iron levels to a healthy level.


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