Iron deficiency is widespread in our world, according to the World Health Organisation. Do you have it? Check out the signs below and then check in with your doctor if too many apply to you.
Over 30 percent of the world’s population – yeah, two billion people – are thought to suffer from some form of iron deficiency. That is a lot! It’s way too much and it might have a huge bearing on your life. You might not even know it. Especially since women are very commonly afflicted by this. Are you feeling exhausted all the time? That can be a signal that your body needs something important that it’s not getting.
And what does your body need the iron for? Well, it resides in red blood cells and helps transport oxygen to your brain, tissues, muscles, and cells. But it also helps regulate hormone levels and give always-needed support to your brain, heart, skin, hair, and nails.
Sometimes, eating seems a bit too oriented to science. For instance, did you know that it’s not enough to have iron-rich foods, but you should also include foods that help you absorb iron the same meal? It’s important to do that because your body cannot make iron on its own. It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself and feed it properly. And give it as much iron as possible – the RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance is 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women. The RDA for pregnant women is even higher, about 27 milligrams.
But first, find out if you have an iron deficiency.
Signs you have an iron deficiency
1. You feel tired all the time
Your body uses the iron to transport oxygen around your body. And when you don’t have enough of that, that’s when the constant state of tired sets in. There are some foods that boost your energy levels, though.
2. You look pale
If you are looking very pale and some of the people around you keep pointing that out, it’s possible that you’re low in iron. Another easy to spot physical sign is the redness inside your lips, gums, and bottom eyelids: if it’s duller in color than usual, then you might have an iron deficiency.
3. You get out of breath often
Low iron levels tend to leave you out of breath whenever you make just a bit of physical effort. Is walking up a flight of stairs leaving you gasping for air? Do you feel like you can’t run as much as you used to? Then you might have an iron deficiency.
4. You have heart palpitations
Does your heart beat irregularly for a few seconds or minutes? This might be yet another sign that you are low in iron.
5. You get sick often
If you feel like you’re always sick catching colds all the time, then that might be because iron deficiency lowers your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to those infections and viruses. You can also give your immune system more help by eating these foods.
6. You get cravings for non-food items
This is a weird one. Craving things like dirt, paint, ice, and other things is called ‘pica’ and it’s one of the more obvious and not so easily dismissed sign that you might be low in iron. So if you have this, make sure that you go to your doctor and do some blood work.
If it turns out that you cross plenty of the boxes above, then make sure you include plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet.