Have you stopped to catch your breath after walking up a flight of stairs, even though you are physically fit? Or do you find that you are feeling exhausted? If so, this could be a sign of iron deficiency. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. Iron is a very important mineral that helps in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Though all of your cells contain some iron, the most iron is found in your red blood cells. Iron is an important component of haemoglobin that accounts for two-thirds of the body’s iron. Iron creates energy from nutrients and it contributes to the transmission of nerve impulses. Your body stores excess iron for future use.
Most people get their necessary supply of iron from their regular diets. If you are vegetarian, you might need to take iron supplements like Omega 3 6 9 as the body absorbs the iron found in meat better than it does from plants.
There are other conditions due to which your body might need more iron, they are:
You Are Pregnant
Women tend to need more iron in their diets, as menstruation depletes the iron stored in the body. Women between the ages 19 to 50 need about 18mg of iron per day while men of the same age can make do with about 8mg of iron. However for women who are pregnant the recommended dietary allowance is 27mg per day.
You Have A Baby
When in the womb, babies build stores of excess iron that they get from their mother. This comes of use in the first six months post birth when they are nursing. Once they hit 6 months, you should include an iron rich diet. If your baby is bottle fed, paediatricians suggest using an iron rich formula.
If you are a regular blood donor or have bleeding due to ulcers, you are at risk of being deficient in iron. In such cases your doctor may recommend iron supplements to regulate your iron intake.
You Are On Dialysis
The kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin, a hormone that tells the body to make red blood cells. However, if the kidneys are not functioning well this could lead to anaemia. Patients on dialysis may lose small amounts of blood and the diets for dialysis patients often limit the intake of iron. Also some of the medications may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron.
If You Are Anaemic And Experience Fatigue
The dietary allowance for iron intake differs depending on age and gender. When your body is deficient in iron, it is unable to make enough healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen. A decrease in the number of red blood cells is called iron deficiency anaemia. This leads to exhaustion and fatigue and it can affect the functioning of your brain to your immune system. Iron is also vital to maintain healthy cells, skin, hair and nails. Iron supplements like Feroglobin are gentle on the stomach. The Folate and B12 help reduce fatigue and it contributes to the formation of red blood cells.
If your body is low on iron try eating a diet of iron rich foods like dark leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, red meat, dried fruits and beans. If this is not sufficient, your doctor might prescribe an iron supplement. If you are pregnant, your prenatal vitamins usually include iron.
Iron supplements can cause side effects like nausea or stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and dark stools. Constipation is a common symptom in pregnant women. Adding extra fibre to your diet may relieve these iron-related symptoms. It is not safe for adults to take more than 45mg of iron a day. In children, an overdose of iron can be toxic.