Have you been feeling tired lately? Does it seem like your daily activities are a little more draining than usual? If so, then you might be low in iron- especially if you’re a woman. A lot of people don’t immediately recognize iron as an essential nutrient, but according to the World Health Organization iron deficiency is the top nutritional deficiency in the world. As much as 80% of people in the world lack iron in their bodies, and up to 30% develop anemia due to prolonged iron deficiency.
Iron is one of the minerals vital to your body’s health. It plays an important role in keeping your immune system healthy, preventing you from getting sick easily. It treats anemia and promotes the production of red blood cells that ensures you get enough oxygen throughout your body.
How much iron do we need?
The amount of iron that you need depends on your age, diet, and gender. It is also important to keep in mind that too much or too little of anything will not be helpful, so it is important to consume just the right amount of iron every day.
A newborn child naturally has iron inside the body because the mothers’ nutrients are being transferred to the baby when they are still in the womb. This is why newborn infants (except when a baby is born prematurely) do not really need a lot of iron included in their diets. As the child grows older, the amount of iron that they need daily will also increase.
As they enter the teenage years, females’ need for iron increases because this is when the menstrual cycle begins.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
In order for your body to produce healthy red blood cells, you need a certain amount of iron in your body. Lacking iron for a prolonged amount of time can lead to severe iron deficiency anemia.
If you are continuously anemic, this could lead to complications such as irregular heartbeat, which is a precursor to heart enlargement or heart failure.
Low blood cell count becomes easily apparent when the skin becomes pale. When the bodies lack iron, this affects the production of red blood cells, which can then result in pale skin. Blood is the reason why we have flush or reddish skin.
Paleness is not only noticeable on the skin, but also on the gums, nails, lips, or lower eyelids.
A feeling of extreme exhaustion
Another symptom that you should not ignore is when you often feel tired- The kind of exhaustion that is not normal, particularly if you are often tired doing even small, everyday tasks. With the lack of iron, our body is not receiving enough oxygen, which is necessary for all body functions.
This can be hard to distinguish, especially when you are a busy person. But when low iron count takes its toll, it is usually accompanied by a feeling of weakness, affecting your focus or your day-to-day life.
Headache / dizziness
Do you feel dizzy, even when there are no triggers? It’s another tell-tale sign of iron deficiency.
Headaches usually occur when there is additional stress, changes in your sleep pattern, or when you are sick. But when it happens frequently, then it may be a sign that you have iron deficiency, and the lack of oxygen is affecting your brain.
Common causes of iron deficiency
Blood loss can go unnoticed especially if it happens slowly over a long period of time. Common medical conditions where you might experience blood loss are ulcers, hemorrhoids, gastritis, and cancer.
Consuming high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
Blood loss is experienced by women during heavy menstruation. It may also be associated with fibroids, which are non-cancerous tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. While some women might not experience symptoms, most experience pain, and heavy menstrual bleeding.
People who engage in strenuous activities or intense workouts often experience an iron deficiency in a term coined as “sports anemia”. This is mostly due to red blood cells being destroyed when they pass through contracting muscles during high levels of activity.
When you engage in heavy physical activities, you tend to drink more fluids, which in turn may dilute the red blood cells, causing damage to them.
Pregnant women need more iron because their bodies utilize the nutrient to make more hemoglobin for the mother and the baby.
Inability to absorb iron
Your body absorbs iron from the food you eat from your small intestine into the bloodstream. However, intestinal disorders such as celiac disease prevent your intestines from absorbing nutrients from food digested in the stomach, and this leads to iron deficiency anemia.
Undergoing surgery where your small intestine is bypassed or removed may also affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.
How to prevent iron deficiency
Iron deficiency can lead to serious medical conditions, and it is best to consult your doctor right away when you start experiencing symptoms. Your doctor will be able to determine the best course of action to treat your low iron levels effectively.
However, consuming iron-rich foods and an iron supplement can usually address your deficiency:
- Proper Diet
Make sure that you eat a balanced diet that consists of the right amount of nutrients, including iron.
Below are foods that are great sources of iron:
- Red meat: beef or pork- the darker red the food is, the more iron it contains.
- Shellfish: oyster, clams, and mussels
- Egg yolks
- Whole grain bread
- Green and leafy vegetables: kale or spinach
- Take iron supplements
Maintaining a diet high in iron might be difficult for most days, and iron supplements are a great option to fill in the nutritional gap.
Iron supplements contain the recommended amount that a person needs daily. Doses for iron supplementation can be as high as 60 to 120 mg of elemental iron.
Supplements come in the form of capsules, tablets, and liquids, but one of the fastest ways to administer iron is by using an oral spray. Lymunix Iron comes in a handy spray bottle for easier administration. It is formulated with lysozyme- a natural antimicrobial, for extra immune protection. Unlike tablets or capsules, it leads to fewer side effects like stomach pains, nausea, or vomiting, as it is absorbed via the bloodstream and not via the gastro-intestinal tract.
The Bottom Line
Having adequate levels of iron in your body truly makes all the difference in your energy levels. If you are getting tired easily, or experiencing headaches frequently, the problem may be easily addressed by increasing your iron intake.
In choosing your supplement, be sure to purchase from reputable brands only and choose a form (spray, tablet, liquid) that fits your lifestyle, so you don’t miss out on your daily dosage.
With everything you need to accomplish in your life, having the energy and strong immunity you need are some of the best investments you can make.