According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency is not only the most common nutritional disorder worldwide, but also the most widespread. Furthermore, it is unique because it affects people in developing countries plus residents of developed nations.
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Statistics say two billion people, or more than 30 percent of the world’s population, are anemic. Anemia is most often caused by an iron deficiency, but there are other symptoms and situations that may indicate you’re not getting enough iron.
You Have A Very Heavy Menstrual Cycle
One of the leading symptoms of iron deficiency in women is overly heavy menstrual periods. Because they are losing so much blood each month during their cycles, the iron deficiency is a natural side effect. If you need to change your tampon more frequently than every two hours, talk to your doctor.
You’re Tired All The Time
While there are many things that can cause a person to feel tired, one of them is having an iron deficiency. When you’re deficient in iron, you’ll likely feel tired because there’s not enough oxygen reaching your body’s tissues. If you’re not only tired, but also weak, irritable and having trouble focusing, it’s even more likely that iron deficiency is behind your exhaustion. Iron helps make a protein called hemoglobin that aids red blood cells in delivering oxygen. If you’re iron deficient, you may feel run down.
Your Complexion Is Very Pale
In addition to giving help to red blood cells, hemoglobin gives blood its color. When your hemoglobin levels are very low, it can make your skin lack color. Check the hue of the insides of your bottom eyelids and your gums. If they are pale, that could give a telltale clue, even if your complexion is naturally very fair.
Your Heart Pounds Frequently
When the heart works too hard, it can become enlarged, and make people suffer from heart murmurs and irregular beats. Although a pounding heart isn’t usually a sign of a new iron deficiency, some scientists believe there is a link between heart problems and a long-term iron deficiency. If you’ve been diagnosed with heart problems, your doctor will probably want to check iron levels often. When an iron deficiency exists, it can make heart issues worse.
You Get Breathless Doing Things That Used To Be Easy
As mentioned above, an iron deficiency can cause parts of the body to be deprived of oxygen. That could mean you also suffer from shortness of breath, even when you’re trying your best to breathe deeply. If tasks that you used to be able to handle without problems now make you breathless, talk to a doctor.
You Have Restless Leg Syndrome
Medical data shows about 15 percent of people diagnosed with restless leg syndrome are also deficient in iron. Furthermore, an iron deficiency is the most common environmental risk factor associated with the ailment, so not getting enough iron may mean you develop problems later.
You’re Anxious For No Apparent Reason
When your body lacks oxygen due to an iron deficiency, your sympathetic nervous system can get overexcited. That may mean it feels like you’re stressed out even if circumstances dictate you should be feeling calm.
There Are Too Many Strands Of Hair On The Hairbrush
Most people naturally shed about 100 strands of hair each day. If you’re consistently noticing more than that, it could mean you have an iron deficiency that’s about to develop into iron-deficient anemia. That’s because oxygen is necessary for keeping your hair, and if you’re oxygen deprived, the body may adapt by using any available oxygen for more essential purposes.
You Want To Eat Things That Aren’t Food
A condition called pica makes people crave things like dirt, paper and ice, and it can be connected with iron deficiency. Although cravings are worth getting a doctor’s advice by themselves, be sure to seek medical help if you actually start eating non-food items.
Headaches Are Frequent Occurrences
Fortunately, when your body is short on oxygen, the brain still gets more than other tissues. However, whenever your brain is even slightly deprived of oxygen, it can cause arteries in the brain to swell up. As a result, you get headaches.
You Don’t Eat Meat And Aren’t Careful With Meal Planning
The human body absorbs more iron from animal products than it does from plant-based foods. So, if you are a vegetarian or vegan and aren’t taking care to keep your diet rich in iron, you may be setting yourself up for an iron deficiency or already have one.
Most moms to be have heard about the need to take folic acid while pregnant, but some aren’t as careful about getting enough iron. Since babies in the womb need iron too, they can cause pregnant moms to become deficient. If you regularly throw up due to morning sickness or are expecting more than one child, those circumstances make it more likely you’ll need to up your iron intake.
You’ve Been Diagnosed With Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid function is not active enough, is a condition that many people don’t realize they have. However, having an iron deficiency can also make your thyroid slow down. When you go to the doctor to get your thyroid function checked, consider getting evaluated for an iron deficiency too.
You Have Bowel Problems
People who have inflammatory bowel disorder can have problems absorbing nutrients from the foods they eat. That could mean even if you’re eating enough iron, your body may not be receiving it properly.
Your Tongue Has Strange Characteristics
When you don’t get enough iron, your body can have reduced levels of myoglobin, a red blood cell protein that supports tongue health, along with other muscles. An iron deficiency can make your tongue abnormally smooth or cause it to hurt and swell.
How To Fix An Iron Deficiency
If you suspect you have an iron deficiency after reading the information above and haven’t already done so, your first priority should be to talk to your physician. He or she can determine the severity of the deficiency and suggest a game plan. Generally, it will be recommended that you get more iron naturally through the foods you eat or by taking supplements. However, be aware that the recommended daily allowance for you depends on things like your gender, age, whether you are menstruating and if you are pregnant.
That’s why it’s smart to not just do your own research about iron deficiency, but also get guidance from a doctor. That’s also true because in the same way an iron deficiency can cause problems, so can consuming an excess of iron. As with a lot of other things in life, especially in regards to diet, the key is striking a healthy balance that’s customized to your characteristics and way of life.