Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder affecting about 20-25% of the world’s population, predominantly children and women.
Iron deficiency occurs when your body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body. If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen to be able to work effectively. This leads to a condition called anemia.
Although there are different types of anemia, iron deficiency anemia is the most common worldwide.
Although the effects of iron-deficiency anaemia are well characterized, emerging evidence suggests that iron deficiency without anaemia can have negative consequences in adults, particularly for neurocognitive outcomes.
Iron-deficiency anemia often develops slowly.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on:
In some cases, people experience no symptoms.
In the beginning, you may not have any symptoms, or they may be mild. As it gets worse, you may notice one or more of these symptoms:
Most of your body’s iron is in the haemoglobin of your red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your body. Extra iron is stored in your liver and is used by your body when your dietary intake is too low.
If you don’t have enough iron in your diet, your body’s iron stores get lower over time.
This can cause:
Try to ensure you’re getting enough iron through real food in your diet. Only take supplements if your doctor recommends them.
Foods rich in iron include:
Your body absorbs more iron from meat than it does from plant sources. If you choose to not eat meat, you may need to increase your intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods to absorb the same amount of iron as does someone who eats meat.
If you think you’re showing signs or symptoms of iron deficiency, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.A simple blood test can confirm whether you have iron deficiency anemia.
If your doctor confirms you have iron deficiency, generally it’s fairly easy to treat. Your doctor will likely recommend increasing your intake of iron from your diet or with iron supplements.
Since iron supplements are available without prescription, it can be tempting to self-diagnose, but this is not recommended because:
Iron overdose happens when you take too much iron in the form of supplements. Iron is toxic in large amounts and can be fatal at high doses therefore do not take iron supplements without talking to your doctor first.
If you think you may be suffering from iron deficiency, do see our doctor and get treated.
Iron Deficiency Test & Treatment is available in our clinics.