To achieve good health, eating the right foods and getting proper nutrition is important. Nutrition means getting enough amount of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, we often tend to miss out on some of these vital nutrients. The most common of them all is iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency is when we lack the sufficient amount iron in our body to keep us healthy. Iron is often associated with metal. However, iron is also a mineral found in food and is vital for a healthy body. The iron in our body produces hemoglobin in the red blood cells carrying oxygen. At the same time, it also makes myoglobin to deliver oxygen to our muscles. Iron is also needed for healthy nails, skin and hair growth. Not only that, iron has recently been discovered to be essential for continuous signal transmissions from the brain to our body. When we have low levels of iron in our body, it would eventually lead to a condition called iron deficiency anemia. In the United States, around three million people suffer from iron deficiency.
What are the causes of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency is a condition that is generally common among adult and adolescent girls as well as toddlers. The causes of iron deficiency are varied but are often noted by the following:
- Not consuming enough iron
Just as the other nutrients in our food, iron is one of the most important. The amount of iron in our body should be consumed daily. If we consume too little for an extended period, our body will become iron deficient. As a result, anemia can also occur. Foods that are generally a good source of iron include eggs, meat, and green, leafy vegetables. This is why beginning at infancy iron should already be incorporated in the diet for normal growth.
- Heavy loss of blood
This is common among women when they are on their menstruation. Some women lose more blood than others. Since iron is present in the blood, the excessive loss of blood can potentially cause iron deficiency. However, blood loss can also happen through other conditions. Health conditions like cancer, ulcers and even gastrointestinal bleeding can significantly cause iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency is also common among pregnant women because of the amount of iron they need for themselves and the developing fetus.
- Unable to absorb iron properly
As soon as iron enters the body, it is absorbed in our small intestine and into our bloodstream. When we have intestinal problems or diseases, it affects proper absorption and enzyme breakdown in our small intestine. This would then cause iron deficiency.
What symptoms indicate iron deficiency?
The symptoms that are initially felt by people with iron deficiency would often go unnoticed. However, when the body becomes excessively iron deficient, the anemic condition and symptoms would also worsen. These symptoms are as follows:
- Extreme feelings of fatigue
- Paleness of the skin
- Constant pain in the chest
- Heartbeat is rapid and breathing is short and winded
- Feeling weak
- Extremities are cold and often clammy
- Nails are brittle
- Loss of appetite or cravings for unusual substances like ice
- Sores around the mouth and tongue
- Constant headaches and dizziness
Health complications are usually rare with iron deficiency. However, when the condition is not treated early, health problems associating with iron deficiency can become severe. Some of these complications include:
Problems for pregnant women
There has been a lot of links connecting to severe iron deficiency and premature births in pregnant women. However, the solution for sufficient iron in pregnant women would be for them to add iron supplement in their prenatal care.
Problems with the heart
Irregular or rapid heartbeats is also caused by iron deficiency. When a person is anemic, more blood is needed to be pumped to make up for the lack of oxygen. As a result, extensive pumping of blood can lead to an enlargement or even failure of the heart.
Problems with growth and development in children
Consuming sufficient amounts of iron should begin at childhood. When there is a lack of it, it can cause a delay in the development of children. Moreover, lack of iron can also make children easily prone to infections.
Natural Ways to Treat Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Eat more foods rich in iron
The problem with iron deficiency is clearly because of the lack of iron. A logical step to overcome the problem is to eat plenty of foods that contain iron. Load up with an iron-infused diet with lots of lean meat, seafood, green leafy vegetables, chicken liver, fortified grains, beans, and nuts.
There has been a lot of positive stories about this age-old remedy and how it can help overcome iron deficiency. Blackstrap molasses is loaded with iron, B vitamins and folic acid that can boost production of red blood cells and counter anemic conditions.
- Vitamin C for better iron absorption
Ascorbic acid has also been known to help treat iron deficiency. This is because it helps absorb iron faster into the intestines. You can add foods rich in Vitamin C into your diet if you are iron deficient or you can even take supplements.
- Taking supplementations into consideration
While making holistic changes, adding iron supplements can also be taken into consideration to help reverse the problem. Here are some recommendations you can find online.
Stress has always been known to be a number one cause of many health problems. Iron deficiency is also one of them. Reduce stressful situations by putting balance in your lifestyle. Participate in activities that can help you relax, or do meditation and breathing exercises.
- Enzymes to help your digestive tract
This is especially helpful when you have problems in breaking down the food you eat. In the same way, it can also help if optimizing the benefits when you are taking iron supplements.
It’s not a surprise that smoking is harmful and can cause a lot of health problems. The toxins from cigarettes usually deplete the production of iron. When you quit smoking, it would significantly boost iron levels and help in improving health as well.
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