Iron is a vital nutrient for survival, and when you are iron deficient, it can lead to a variety of adverse health outcomes. Iron deficiency is most commonly associated with anemia, which is a condition in which your body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells. If iron deficiency anemia is prolonged without treatment, it could potentially lead to heart problems and other health issues.
What is Iron Deficiency?
Iron is a vital nutrient that your body needs in the process of blood production. Iron is a significant component of hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is an essential component in your blood that functions in your body by transferring oxygen from your lungs to your tissues through your blood cells. If you have iron deficiency, this essentially means that your body cannot produce as much hemoglobin in your red blood cells, which results in a lack of oxygen throughout your body.
We survive on oxygen, so if your body does not get enough of it, then this can cause a ripple effect of adverse health outcomes. Iron deficiency is often found in women due to blood loss from menstruation and childbirth. But iron deficiency can also be widespread for vegetarians, people who frequently donate blood, and if you have a poor diet.
See below for some of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency:
- Cold extremities
- Brittle nails
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
The Top 5 Ways to Prevent Iron Deficiency
If you think you might be iron deficient, then it is always best to first consult with your doctor before trying to treat this condition on your own. However, there are some things that you can do to try to prevent iron deficiency from occurring in the first place. So, see below for the top 5 ways to prevent iron deficiency in your life and improve your health!
- Eat foods high in iron such as meat, beans, leafy greens, eggs, and other iron-fortified foods
- Consume foods and drinks with vitamin C which can help you absorb iron such as orange juice, tomatoes, green and red peppers, and leafy greens
- Avoid caffeinated drinks because caffeine reduces iron absorption
- Ensure you are getting enough calcium which also helps in iron absorption by eating calcium-fortified foods such as dairy products, soybeans, and leafy greens
- Treat any significant blood loss from heavy menstrual periods or digestive issues you may have quickly because substantial blood loss is a primary contributing factor of iron deficiency
Iron deficiency can cause serious health issues, so it is essential to stay vigilant about keeping your iron levels at a high level. Although the above lifestyle changes can certainly be beneficial for preventing iron deficiency, if you think you are iron deficient, it is always best to consult with a medical doctor for assistance with this. This condition can become quite dangerous if left untreated. But to keep yourself in good health, it is still beneficial to follow the above practices regardless.