Iron deficiency impairs red blood cell development resulting in a decline of oxygen delivery to your body, this leaves your feeling tired, weak and out of breath as well as looking pallor.
Additional to the obvious symptoms; Iron deficiency can lead to imbalances in enzyme function, hormone production and detoxification. During stages of development such as pregnancy, teenage years or in young children you may also notice sub-optimal growth and development.
Could you be Iron Deficient?
Do you feel tired?
Do you feel weak?
Do your skin, nails and gums appear pale?
Do you become out of breath quickly?
Do you have difficulty concentrating?
Does your pulse race?
Do you get heart palpitations?
Is your menstrual cycle irregular?
Do you have cold hands and feet or get numbness?
Do you suffer restless legs?
Are you irritable, feel sad or depressed?
Is your immune system suffering?
Have you ever been diagnosed with anaemia?
If you answer YES to 5 or more of these questions it is worth your while to visit your health care practitioner to investigate further.
You may be at higher risk of Iron Deficiency if:
You are pregnant
You are very active
You have digestive issues which results in reduced absorption of nutrients.
You are vegetarian or vegan
If you have heavy menstrual bleeding or have suffered blood loss as a result of injury or chronic bleeding.
Medications such as Aspirin, ant-acids and proton pump inhibitors.
Increasing Iron in your diet and improving absorption:
FOOD~ We get greatest absorption of Iron found in animal products including beef, pork, lamb, liver, turkey, chicken, oysters, sardines and salmon. Vegetarian sources of iron include kelp, molasses, brewers yeast, pumpkin seeks, cashews, dandelion greens, prunes and dates.
VITAMIN C~ Combining the above foods with food rich in vitamin C will help our body to increase the Iron absorption; increase capsicum, broccoli, kale, parsley, kiwi fruit, oranges, lemons and strawberries.
FOODS WHICH REDUCE ABSORPTION~ These are not foods which are un healthy for us, rather, if your iron levels are low avoid eating them at the same time as an iron rich meal. This includes eggs, dairy, tea, coffee, red wine, soybeans and tofu.
Supplementing with Iron.
This topic is controversial and confusing for the consumer. Most GP's will recommend the supplement range Ferro-Grad; unfortunately this pharmacy branded product is poorly absorbed and is commonly associated with side effects including constipation and nausea.
BUT... NOT ALL IRON IS CREATED EQUAL!!
Please when looking into taking Iron supplements go to your local health food store or visit your naturopath for advice. We have HEAPS of supplements which are well absorbed and well tolerated so you can get the most out of your supplement without any of the side effects :-)
Liquid Iron supplements such as Spatone or Floradix are great for maintenance of Iron levels but are not high enough dose to correct deficiencies.