- Iron deficiency is common and can lead to serious conditions like anemia. The symptoms include fatigue, pallor, headaches, dizzy spells, and physical weakness.
- Risk factors include obesity and vegetarian lifestyle. Heavy menstrual blood loss can also trigger iron deficiency, particularly in teenage girls.
- A typical complete blood count test may not detect iron deficiency. Testing specifically for ferritin, a protein that can indicate iron deficiency, may be needed.
- Iron deficiencies can be framed by dietary changes. Good iron sources include lean meats, seafood, dark leafy green vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, tofu, and cashews.
- Body absorption of iron from plant-based foods can be improved by consuming a high vitamin C source, such as citrus fruits, simultaneously.
Do you feel constantly tired even after getting plenty of sleep, or do you have a teenage daughter who seems constantly fatigued? The answer to these issues might be more straightforward than you realize; you could be dealing with a deficiency in iron.
Iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional shortfall, and if it becomes serious, it can lead to anemia. Anemia is a condition where your body has inadequate red blood cells, or those cells lack sufficient hemoglobin, a protein responsible for oxygen transportation. Several symptoms could hint at this issue.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
- Headaches and/or dizzy spells
- Physical weakness
If you experience constant tiredness or have risk factors for iron deficiency, such as obesity or following a vegetarian lifestyle, consult your doctor about being tested. You might need to increase your iron intake through food or consider taking iron supplements if required.
Anemia and iron deficiency can both result from significant menstrual blood loss, posing a risk particularly for teenage girls. As such, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend yearly iron tests for teen females who go through heavy periods.
Remember, a typical complete blood count test may not necessarily detect iron deficiency since it specifically requires a different blood test to measure ferritin, a protein. If you have any risk factors, undergoing this test will catch a deficiency early before it can progress to anemia.
Natural Ways of Boosting Iron
You can naturally remedy your iron deficiencies with a few dietary changes. Consider foods such as lean beef, chicken, turkey, oysters, dark leafy green vegetables, and whole grains. In terms of plant-based sources, the best options include legumes (like beans and lentils), tofu, and cashews apart from leafy greens.
Your body absorbs iron from animal-based sources more efficiently, but the absorption rate from plant-based foods can be improved by consuming a high vitamin C source, like citrus fruits, simultaneously.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides more information about foods that boost iron.