Could You Be Iron Deficient?

Could You Be Iron Deficient?

Author -  Good Health

Getting enough iron into your system every day could make the difference between feeling great or completely depleted, and it’s not a difficult issue to rectify for most. With World Iron Awareness Week (April18-24) starting on Monday, we have highlighted some key causes, symptoms and solutions to help understand this avoidable nutrient deficiency suffered by so many.

Key causes of iron deficiency:

  1. First and foremost, not getting enough iron from food. This is where vegetarians and vegans are at an increased risk due to a lack of meat in their diets. Of course, there are ways around reverting back to a carnivore lifestyle – include vegetarian sources of iron in your diet (for example, spinach) and find a quality supplement; that way you can ensure you’re getting your daily dietary requirement. 

  2. An inability to absorb iron. This can be a common problem for those suffering from celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
  3. Frequent blood loss. This could be as a result of heavy periods or bleeding inside the body, due to conditions such as peptic ulcers.

  4. Pregnancy. Women’s demands for iron increase dramatically at this time and an amazing 15-25% of all pregnancies experience iron deficiency.

  5. Chronic kidney disease. Iron deficiency can be a dangerous complication of chronic kidney disease, especially in dialysis patients.


Am I at risk? The symptoms of iron deficiency:

A dietary iron deficiency is easy to rectify once diagnosed. Symptoms can take time to develop and vary from person to person. If you suffer from any of the below, it could be a sign that you have an iron deficiency: 

  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Colds hands and feet
  • Restless legs
  • Irritability
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Low immunity
  • Premature births and low birth weight babies
  • Brittle nails 
  • Swelling or soreness of the tongue 
  • Cracks in the corners of the mouth
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Unusual cravings such as ice, dirt, paint, or starch – technically a condition called Pica


So, how much iron do we need to consume a day?

The recommended daily intake (RDI) is:
18mg a day for women of reproductive age
8mg a day for men
27mg for pregnant women
15mg for girls aged 14-18
13.7–15.1mg a day in children aged 2–11 years
16.3mg a day in children and teens aged 12–19 years

Which foods contain iron?

Recent studies have shown that when it comes to iron, the best source is meat – the absorption of iron from vegetarian sources still falls short. Iron derived from meat (also known as heme iron) is attached to other proteins that enhance the absorption, whereas iron from plant sources (non-heme) does not contain these proteins, so absorption is more difficult.
So with that in mind, here are our best picks…

  • Animal sources – red meat, poultry, organ meats (such as heart and liver), egg yolks and seafood
  • Vegetable sources – legumes, almonds (and many other nuts), tahini, dried fruit (particularly raisins and prunes), and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and parsley.

TIP: To help boost your absorption of iron, it is best to eat fruits or vegetables rich in vitamin C (think kiwifruit, orange, berries and capsicums) close to the time you eat your chosen iron source.

At the other end of the spectrum, some foods and beverages can interfere with iron absorption such as tea, coffee and chocolate, due to their high content of polyphenols.


Supplements – what you need to know:

If you are low in iron, iron supplements can be a great addition to any diet. The key to optimal iron supplementation is not how much you take but rather its absorption. Before you take any dietary supplements, you should consult your doctor, especially if you are on prescription medication.

Good Health Iron Chews are a great tasting, one-a-day chewable tablet that provide 20mg of iron (per tablet) and helps support the management of a dietary iron deficiency. Iron Chews provide optimal iron absorption and are suitable for everyone concerned about their dietary iron intake.

Could You Be Iron Deficient?

While it may be one of the most common deficiencies in the world, getting your iron levels back up to where they should be doesn’t need to be a difficult road, and could make the world of difference to your energy, skin and quality of life.

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