Living With Low Iron And AnemiaRead Time: 3 minutes
Iron is essential in red blood cell production. Without iron, sufficient amounts of oxygen cannot be carried throughout the body. The most common symptom of iron deficiency is fatigue. Low iron levels are often associated with anemia. Iron-rich diets can help increase red blood cell production.
What is anemia?
Anemia occurs when an individual does not have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. When tissues and organs cannot get enough oxygen, this can leave the individual feeling weak and tired. Either the body does not produce enough red blood cells, a large injury has occurred, blood loss has depleted red blood cells quicker than the body can replenish the cells, or an autoimmune disorder caused the body to destroy red blood cells. There are several various types of anemia in addition to iron deficiency anemia.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia is a lack of folate and vitamin B12. Low folic acid can lead to pregnancy complications.
- Sickle cell anemia causes red blood cells to die early and can be life-threatening.
- Aplastic anemia occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells.
Prevention and supplements
While some types of anemia cannot be prevented, iron and vitamin deficiency anemias can be avoided. Eating a diet rich in iron, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin C can ensure the body gets essential nutrients for red blood cell production. Multivitamins can help bridge the gap between diet and nutritional needs. Most of the iron people consume is found in meat. Vegetarians and vegans will have to consume iron from plant-based sources and possibly add a supplement.
Why is iron important?
Iron is needed to make the protein hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a building block of red blood cells. Because red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, an iron deficiency means the cells cannot work effectively. Of the many types of anemia, iron deficiency anemia is the most common.
Symptoms of deficiency
The most noticeable sign of iron deficiency is fatigue. Lack of oxygen can cause shortness of breath, increased headaches, and dizziness. Because the heart has to work overtime to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood, this can lead to heart palpitations. Some people with low iron will get cracks in the corner of the mouth. Skin and hair deprived of oxygen will appear dry and brittle. Red blood cells give the skin color, and lack of the red blood cells will cause the skin to appear pale. Restless leg syndrome has been linked to low iron levels. During the most severe cases of iron deficiency, the nails will begin to concave in the center, becoming spoon-shaped.
Get your energy back today
Health, concentration, and productivity can all be affected by low iron levels. Iron-rich diets can increase iron levels and boost red blood cell production. However, iron supplements may also be helpful. Speak with a healthcare provider or pharmacist to find out more about iron supplements and treatments for anemia.