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Could You Have an Iron Deficiency?

Iron is a mineral that’s necessary for the creation of red blood cells, which are vital for everyday bodily processes, including transporting oxygen to your organs. Therefore, it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of iron deficiency and what to do if you suspect you lack this particular micronutrient. 

What Are the Symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia?

Depending on the severity of the iron deficiency, some people may not experience any symptoms or even know they have it. Some of the common symptoms associated with this health concern include paleness, unexplained fatigue, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and dry skin or hair. If you notice any of these symptoms, share your concerns with your doctor.

What Are the Causes of Iron Deficiency?

There are multiple reasons why someone might be iron deficient. However, the most common causes are:  

1. You’re not getting enough iron in your diet. 

While the term micronutrient might make you think you need very little of this mineral, in reality, your body requires adequate amounts of iron to remain healthy. Red meats, shellfish, and organ meats, such as liver, are great sources of iron you can include in your diet. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, spinach, legumes, and tofu are excellent alternatives.

2. You experience substantial blood loss. 

If your menstrual cycle involves heavy, long, or frequent periods, the blood loss could potentially lead to an iron deficiency. Be sure to share any concerns you might have with your OB/GYN

3. You have a preexisting condition or difficulty absorbing iron. 

Some people cannot absorb enough iron even if they are consuming the recommended daily amounts. Preexisting conditions such as celiac disease, gastrointestinal diseases, and congestive heart failure can all reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron.

If you experience concerning symptoms, schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician. If they determine you have iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may suggest supplements in addition to dietary changes to help you get back to better health.

Sources:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute | Iron Deficiency Anemia
Healthline | 10 Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
MedicineNet | Iron and Iron Deficiency
MedlinePlus | Iron Deficiency Anemia
Healthline | 11 Healthy Foods That Are Very High in Iron
American Society of Hematology | Iron-Deficiency Anemia
American Society of Hematology | Blood Basics