Constant tiredness, pale skin, and chest pains are all common signs of low iron levels, also known as iron deficiency anemia. Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells to deliver oxygen around the body and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional disorder in the world [1].

It’s estimated that around 10 million people in the United States are iron deficient and around 5 million of those have iron deficiency anemia. With those numbers in mind, it’s important to know more about iron deficiency and whether or not you’re getting enough iron.



What is the main cause of iron deficiency anemia?


Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of the essential mineral: iron. This condition occurs when your body isn’t getting enough iron to produce hemoglobin - a key component in red blood cells.

You can be deficient in iron for a number of reasons, including diet or blood loss. Some common causes include:


Blood loss


During a heavy menstrual cycle, women can lose iron nearly every month through blood loss. Other forms of blood loss that can cause iron deficiency anemia include slow, chronic blood loss such as a colon polyp or gastrointestinal bleeding.

See also: What Vitamins and Minerals do Women Need?


Not consuming enough iron


One of the best ways to provide your body with the iron that it needs is through iron-rich foods. In fact, it’s possible to reduce your risk of iron deficiency or even manage iron levels by consuming iron-rich foods. Some of these include:

  • Iron-fortified foods
  • Red meat
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts

See also: Iron Rich Foods: What to Eat With Iron Deficiency


Inability to absorb iron


If a person is living with an intestinal disorder that affects their intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, it can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. Examples of these disorders include celiac disease or chron’s disease.


What are the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia?


At times, iron deficiency can go unnoticed due to its lack of symptoms though as it worsens, indicators begin to become more apparent. According to Mayo Clinic, some of these may include [2]:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Brittle nails

Can you fix iron deficiency?


While iron deficiency can’t be fixed quickly, or overnight, there are some steps that can be taken towards helping reduce your risk of developing the condition or managing it if you have already been diagnosed, these include:

  • Eating more iron-rich foods
  • Choosing foods and drinks that help with iron absorption
  • Consider iron supplements (don’t forget to consult with a medical professional before taking supplements)

See also: How Much Iron is Too Much?


One of the most reliable ways to keep an eye on your iron levels is by taking a test. This can be done by taking a visit to your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Iron Test can identify iron deficiencies in your body with online results available within 5 days. Our dedicated medical team will be available every step of the way to answer any questions you may have.

You should consider taking the test if:

  • You are suffering from an iron deficiency
  • You are suffering from hemochromatosis
  • You are vegetarian
  • You frequently donate blood
  • You are suffering from fatigue, low energy, or low mood
  • You have a family history of hemochromatosis
  • You are from Northern Europe, you are more likely to suffer from hemochromatosis

See also: How do you Check Iron Levels From Home?



References

  1. World Health Organization. Iron Deficiency Anemia. Online: Who.int
  2. Mayo Clinic. Iron deficiency anemia. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2019