Iron deficiency (anemia) is due to insufficient iron. Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen(hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath.
Symptoms: Initially, iron deficiency anemia can be so mild that it goes unnoticed. But as the body becomes more and more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms intensify. Symptoms may include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
- Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Unusual craving for non-nutritive substances, like ice, dirt or starch
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children
Causes: Iron deficiency occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, which is the part of RBC that gives blood its color and enables the RBC to carry oxygenated blood throughout the body.
Causes of iron deficiency anemia may include:
- Chronic blood loss within the body such as peptic ulcers, colorectal cancer etc. or heavy periods in women
- Lack of iron in your diet
- Inability to absorb iron and other nutrients from digested food
- During pregnancy, iron deficiency is common because their iron stores need to serve their own increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus.
Risk factors: These groups of people may have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia:
- Pregnant women
- Infants and children
- Frequent blood donors.
Prevention: You can reduce your risk of iron deficiency anemia by choosing iron rich foods like:
- Red meat, pork and poultry
- Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach
- Dried fruits such as raisins and apricots
- Iron fortified cereals like bread and pasta
Your body absorbs more iron from meat than it does from other sources. If you choose to not take meat you need to increase your intake of iron rich foods to absorb the same amount of iron as those who eats meat.
Choose foods containing vitamin c to enhance iron absorption:
- Leafy greens
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