Monday , 27 February 2017
Beauty Tips

How to Tell if You’re Iron Deficient

young woman drinking coffee in early morning, yawning and tired.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficit in the WORLD as well as the leading cause of anemia. It effects approximately 20% of women (up to 50% of woman during pregnancy), and 3% of men as recorded by Statistics Canada in 2012. Since iron is critical for producing hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your entire body), it’s pretty essential to your total well-being! That being said, you’re going to suffer from a multitude of health consequences if your iron stores are low. Here are several things to look out for:

Signs You May Be Iron Deficient

  • Fatigue/tiredness – the most common symptom of iron deficiency, and yet because many of us hold busy lives, it may be difficult to detect. Since less oxygen is being received by the tissues due to lack of iron, your body becomes deprived of energy – and the result is chronic fatigue!
  • Headaches – with less oxygen being delivered to the brain, this can lead to a swelling of the arteries and frequent ensuing headaches. At the same time, this will result in impaired focus and concentration!
  • Breathlessness – due to lowered oxygen levels, it will be more difficult to “catch your breath” when doing any type of physical activity, as simple as climbing the stairs. This can also contribute to an overworked heart which may cause irregular beats, murmurs, enlargement, and in very severe cases, heart failure.
  • Pale Skin – if you notice that your skin is paler than usual or you have a noticeably white complexion, you may want to consider iron deficiency. You can also check the inside of your lips, gums, and the inside of your lower eyelids, which will not be as red as usual if there is iron deficiency present. Hemoglobin is what gives your skin its bright, rosy hue – therefore, in decreased levels, it will effect your skin tone and mucus membranes.
  • Hair Loss –  your hair follicles are dependent on oxygen and proper blood flow for their vitality and the strength! Absence of iron and thus, depleted oxygen, will cause hair fallout and thinning.
  • Anxiety – lack of iron can actually heighten the sympathetic nervous system, tricking the body in believing its in a “fight or flight” response mode, due to impaired hormone function and a lack of oxygen.
  • Cravings for Ice, Dirt, or Clay – although ice may be a common craving, oddly enough, so can dirt or clay! This however, is indicative of an iron deficiency given that our bodies are screaming out for minerals in the form of these unusual items. 
  • Low thyroid function – iron deficiency can also slow your body’s thyroid function and create this co-morbid health issue. You may also notice weight gain, dry skin, and decreased body temperature.

Causes of Iron Deficiency

  • Heavy Periods – if you are a woman and experience heavy menstruation, you are susceptible to iron deficiency due to excessive blood loss. Check with your doctor if you are experiencing heavier than normal periods or menstruating for extended periods of time.
  • Injury/Blood loss – in cases of injury or trauma where there is a measurable amount of blood loss, this may lead to an iron deficiency (albeit temporary).
  • Insufficient Dietary Iron – if you are consuming a diet with insufficient iron, this will no doubt cause a deficiency! If you are vegan or vegetarian, you may want to pay closer attention to the amount and sources of iron you are receiving from your diet.
  • Pregnancy – during pregnancy, the fetus actually predominates the mom’s iron stores as it’s survival becomes the body’s priority! For many women, this can exacerbate an existing iron deficiency or cause one during the length of her term. During pregnancy, iron should be tested on a regular basis.
  • Celiac/Infammatory Bowel Disease – gastrointestinal issues like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis not only cause inflammation and damage to the digestive tract and cause chronic blood loss, but will also result in the impaired absorption of nutrients – i.e. iron!

How Iron Deficiency is Diagnosed

Your doctor will diagnose an iron deficiency based on your medical history, physical exam, as well as lab work. Often, a Complete Blood Count (CBC) is done, followed by serum iron, serum ferritin, and serum transferrin levels {aka total iron binding capacity}. If it is suspected that internal bleeding is contributing to an iron deficiency, a fecal occult blood test may also be undertaken to assess for blood in the stools.

Food Sources High in Iron

The amount of iron you need depends on your age, gender, pregnancy, and overall health (i.e. disease, inflammation, and absorptive capacity). Women ages 19-50 need approximately 18mg of iron/day, while women after age 50 and adult men need about 8mg/day. 

  • Black Strap Molasses – 15mg (1 tbsp) = 3.6 mg; not only high in iron, but a deliciously natural sweetener!
  • Spinach – 125 ml (1/2 cup) cooked = 3.4 mg; makes for a yummy iron-rich stir-fry!
  • Nettle – 1 cup – 1.46 mg; nettle is also an amazing nutritive for the body and contains detoxifying qualities!
  • Yellow Dock – 1 ounce of root = 22 mg iron; yellow dock is known as the STOREHOUSE for organic and easily assimilated plant-based iron!
  • Red Meat – a well-absorbed heme source of iron, however, there are many more health benefits to consuming a predominantly plant-based diet than would be received from regular red meat consumption.

TIPS:

  • Always consume non-heme iron (i.e. plant-based) with a source of vitamin C (i.e. citrus fruits) for optimal absorption.
  • Dairy products inhibit iron absorption (and are overall congestive, constipating, and bad for the body – best to avoid them wherever possible!)
  • Caffeine and phosphates from soda interfere with iron absorption – limit and/or avoid!
  • Cooking in cast iron pans increase the iron content of foods – use them!
  • Regular exercise increase the body’s demand for oxygen and actually increases the absorption of iron in the body. Another reason to stay fit 🙂

Iron Supplementation

Land-Art-Pure-Iron

If you are very low in iron, you may require higher therapeutic doses that will be difficult to obtain from diet alone. Land Art‘s PURE IRON is a concentrated and bio-available source of iron that is easily assimilated by the body. AND it doesn’t cause constipation! This is especially important since constipation is the main side effect of many forms of iron supplementation on the market. Plus, its formulated in a delicious superfruits concentrate (with ZERO harmful additives, of course)!

USES
Helps to prevent iron deficiency and/or iron deficiency anemia.
Helps to form red blood cells and helps in their proper function.

DOSAGE : Children 0-13 years: 5 ml per day.
Adults and adolescents 14 and over: 10 ml per day.
Can be taken in a juice or a glass of water.

USING TIPS FROM OUR NATUROPATH : We suggest the intake of iron 2 hours after taking a tea or coffee because they reduce iron assimilation.

MEDICINAL INGREDIENTS : per 5 ml
Iron (Iron gluconate) 10 mg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1,5 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 2,5 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 1,25 mg,
Vitamin B12 5 mcg

NON-MEDICINAL INGREDIENTS : Purified water, concentrated fruit juices (apple, grape, blueberry, pomegranate, cranberry).*No added sugar, aroma or coloring agents. No preservatives. No allergenics (gluten, wheat, dairy products, yeast, corn).

SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS FOR USE : Take with food, a few hours before or after taking another medications.

PRESERVATION : To avoid contamination of the product, do not drink directly from the bottle and consume within four weeks after opening. Keep refrigerated after opening.

CONTRAINDICATIONS : None

DRUG INTERACTION : None

Caution: Never take an iron supplement without knowing your iron levels and discussing with your doctor first!

DISCLAIMER: This article does not replace the advice or care of a medical health professional. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, visit your Medical and/or Naturopathic Physician for further assessment.

About Everything Beautiful

Everything-Beautiful is a holistic beauty, wellness, travel, and lifestyle destination designed for those looking to take charge of their lives naturally! Founded by Erica Grenci, a health and wellness expert and graduating Naturopathic Doctor in 2016, it has been her platform for sharing creative inspiration throughout the health-conscious community.

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