How To Know If You’re Iron-Deficient

Emily Morsello

| 2 min read

Plate of spinach
Did you know there are online support groups for people with iron-deficiency, also known as anemia? The truth is, there are lots of struggles that come with anemia, which is also the most common blood disorder in the United States.
Anemia is a lack of red blood cells in the blood, which causes low amounts of hemoglobin – the carrier of oxygen. Once cause of anemia is iron deficiency.

Do you understand your iron needs?

There are many reasons a person may be deficient in iron. Certain people have increased iron needs, especially depending on their stage of life. For example:
  • Infants and toddlers need more iron than other kids
  • Pregnant women and many young women require iron supplements
  • People who frequently give blood lose iron
Another reason one may be anemic is an overall lack of iron intake or absorption within the diet. For example, the intake of iron via meat, poultry and fish allow for more efficient iron absorption. Vegetarian diets are low in heme iron.

Heme and non-heme iron

Just because Popeye ate lots of spinach, doesn’t mean he was absorbing the iron to his full potential. According to The Vegetarian Resource Group, heme iron is the iron found in meat and non-heme iron is found in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts). Non-heme iron is not as efficiently absorbed in the blood as heme iron.
One way to increase the absorption of non-heme iron, such as that found in salad and greens, is by taking a vitamin C supplement.

Symptoms and diet suggestions

Some of the symptoms of anemia are:
  1. Chronic fatigue and overall weakness
  1. Shortness of breath
  1. Pale skin
  1. Rapid heartbeat
  1. Irritability
If any of the above symptoms sounds familiar to you, and you haven’t been able to put your finger on the problem – I suggest getting your iron checked by your doctor and potentially adding more iron-rich foods to your diet. Some foods full of iron include:
  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Beef
  • Turkey
Do you struggle with iron deficiency? If so, share your story here.
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Photo credit: Lecic

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