Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

The symptoms of iron deficiency are very serious warning signs. Iron is an essential nutrient that carries oxygen. It forms part of the oxygen carrying proteins, hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle.

Body iron is concentrated in storage forms in the bone marrow, liver and spleen. Approximately 15% of the body’s iron is stored for future needs and used when the diet is inadequate. The other 85% is in the body’s tissues as part of proteins that help your body function.

What does Iron Do?

Iron builds up the quality of blood and increases resistance to stress and disease. It is needed for the formation of myoglobin which is found in muscle tissue. Myoglobin supplies oxygen to muscle cells for use in muscle contraction.

Iron stimulates bone-marrow production of hemoglobin, the red-blood-cell pigment that carries oxygen to the body’s cells.

Iron prevents fatigue and promotes good skin tone.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency anemia symptoms result when there is severe loss of iron. The red blood cells get a decrease in oxygen and become small and pale with a low hemoglobin concentration.

Iron deficiency often is the result of a poor diet. Iron deficiency anemia symptoms include abnormal paleness or lack of color in the skin, lack of energy and tiring very easily.

It also shows by irritability, a sore or swollen tongue, an enlarged spleen and a decreased mental capacity or learning deficit. It can also cause frequent illnesses and cold extremities.

One of the other symptoms of iron deficiency is Pica. This is a desire to eat peculiar substances such as dirt or ice. Iron deficiency can also cause menstrual cycles to stop.

Pregnancy causes the body to need more iron, so it needs to be supplemented with more iron to prevent a deficiency.

Iron deficiency in women occurs during heavy menstrual cycles when they can lose a considerable amount of iron. Adult men and postmenopausal women lose very little amounts of iron.

Causes of Iron Deficiency

The most common reason is the diet. With junk food so readily available, it is very easy to not get the needed amount of iron for your body. For every 10 to 20 mg of iron ingested, only 1 mg gets absorbed. This means it is very easy to have an iron deficiency if you don’t keep track of your iron intake.

Body changes can also increase the amount of iron the body needs. This occurs in pregnancy, nursing and growth spurts in children.

Loss of blood due to menstruation, surgery or injury can also cause your iron to be low.

Most of the iron from your diet is absorbed in the upper small intestine. If there is any defect in the gastrointestinal tract, this could cause the iron not to be able to be absorbed.

The treatment of iron deficiency is usually iron supplements, along with changing or stopping the cause in the first place.

Foods that are rich in iron include oysters, liver, lean red meat, dark red meat, poultry, tuna, salmon and eggs.

Also iron rich are dried fruits, dried beans, whole grains and iron-fortified cereals.

Always see your physician when you suspect any illness including anemia.


more than symptoms of iron deficiency on our Dietary Mineral Supplements page


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