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The Importance of Iron

What is Iron Deficiency?

Iron deficiency is a major deficiency that often goes unnoticed. Starting off mild, as the body becomes more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms intensify. Such symptoms may include extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, dizziness, inflammation, brittle nails, fast heartbeat and/or chest pain. Additional signs include cravings for non-nutritive substances like ice, dirt, or starch. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, which is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its red color and enables the red blood cells to carry oxygenated blood throughout your body.

See below for optimal iron levels:

Causes of Iron Deficiency

If you aren’t consuming enough iron, or if you’re losing too much iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, and iron deficiency anemia will eventually develop.
Causes of iron deficiency anemia include blood loss,
Blood loss. Blood contains iron within red blood cells. So if you lose blood, you lose some iron. Women with heavy periods are at risk of iron deficiency anemia because they lose blood during menstruation. Slow, chronic blood loss within the body — such as from a peptic ulcer, a hiatal hernia, a colon polyp or colorectal cancer — can cause iron deficiency anemia. Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin.A lack of iron in your diet. Your body regularly gets iron from the foods you eat. If you consume too little iron, over time your body can become iron deficient.

Factors Affecting Iron Levels

Women are most at risk for iron deficiency due to a variety of factors like pregnancy and menstruation. Without iron supplementation, iron deficiency anemia occurs in many pregnant women because their iron stores need to serve their own increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus. Since women lose blood during menstruation, women in general are at greater risk of iron deficiency. Those at risk for lower iron levels include vegetarians as they don’t eat meat and if they don’t include other iron-rich foods, they may be lacking in iron.

Iron Rich Foods

Having iron rich foods in your diet are a great way to increase iron levels in your body. Examples of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified foods. You can also supplement with iron supplements like our FE Mineral supplement which is great for anemic people or those looking to boost their iron intake. For proper growth and development, infants and children need iron from their diets, too. Children need extra iron during growth spurts and if your child isn’t eating a healthy, varied diet, he or she may be at risk of anemia. An intestinal disorder, such as celiac disease, which affects your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, can lead to iron deficiency anemia. If part of your small intestine has been bypassed or removed surgically, that may affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.

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