Do you have an Iron deficiency? Considering how common they actually are, the chances are high that you could be lacking in essential iron.
People in the UK admit they don't really know much about iron deficiencies, what they mean and what it causes.
Nearly half of the UK aren't aware of what their own iron levels are, so here are some signs that you might have an iron deficiency.
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7 signs you may have an iron deficiency
You’re consistently tired
If you're lacking in iron, your body won't be efficiently transporting oxygen around the body, which will leave you feeling tired.
Cold hands or feet
The body needs iron to generate heat, so if you suffer from particularly cold feet and hands, it could be time to up your iron intake.
Don't just put it down to the fact there's less sun during the colder months when you have low iron your body's levels of red blood cells decreases, which gives you a paler complexion. If you find that areas like your gums or the inside of your lips are less red than usual, you could have low iron levels.
Your nails are brittle and dry
Iron is an essential nutrient for ensuring your nails grow healthily. If your iron levels are low you might notice that your nails break easily, or you have ridges running down the length of them.
Your tongue doesn’t look normal
We know that looking at your tongue might not seem like something you do all the time, but if your iron levels are low you might notice that your tongue looks pale or smooth. This is down to a lack of haemoglobin in the bloodstream.
You get short of breath easily
Low iron levels could leave you feeling out of breath doing simple tasks like walking up the stairs.
We shed hair naturally on a daily basis, but if you notice that more hair seems to be on your hairbrush than normal, you could be low in iron because it's an essential mineral for healthy hair.
Reasons why you could be low in iron
You regularly give blood
Giving blood is something that we should all consider if we can. But it removes iron from the body and can contribute to low iron levels, for obvious reasons. If you regularly give blood it's important that you eat foods rich in iron before and after a donation.
You exercise regularly
When we exercise our body will use iron to deliver oxygen around the body, so if you exercise regularly it's important that you take this into account. You might need as much as 30% more iron on a daily basis than those who don't exercise.
You drink tea and coffee daily
Eating iron is only half the battle, you need to ensure that your body absorbs the mineral too. And research has indicated that drinking tea and coffee may reduce the absorption. Try to avoid drinking them with, after or before meals to ensure your body gets what it needs from your food.
You’re vegetarian or vegan
You're more likely to be deficient in iron if you're a vegetarian or vegan because the body absorbs iron from meat and fish up to three times more efficiently than iron from plant-based foods.
You have heavy periods
Your chances of having an iron deficiency are increased if you lose a lot of blood when you have your period.
When you're pregnant the body needs twice as much as iron, it's needed to supply oxygen to the baby.
You have coeliac disease
If you have coeliac disease, which hasn't been properly diagnosed, the chances are your gut is damaged from eating gluten, which leads to the body not being able to absorb nutrients like iron, which could lead to a deficiency.
How to combat iron deficiency
Talking to your doctor or pharmacist should be your first port of call. Maintaining a diet rich in iron is also recommended and for those with iron deficiency, taking an iron supplement like Active Iron may be needed to boost iron levels to a healthy level.
The best way to prevent the deficiency is by eating plenty of whole grains and legumes, as these are packed with Iron.
Eating iron with vitamin C also ensures that the body absorbs the nutrient.
Most people don’t realise that substances in certain foods can inhibit the absorption of iron such as:
- Teas (tannin) and coffee (caffeine)
- Dairy foods and supplements containing calcium
- Raw cereal (phytates)
- Carbonated drinks