Do You Know… Iron Deficiency Causes Anemia Which Kills About 1,83,400 People Annually
Why Does Our Body Needs Iron?
Iron is an important mineral that plays a vital role in performing the various functions of our body. The most important of them being the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen in the body. It also enables our muscles to store and use oxygen. Iron is a part of many enzymes and so it helps in the performance of many cell functions. For the proper function of haemoglobin which is present in red blood cells that transport oxygen in the blood.
Iron helps in maintaining energy and focus, gastrointestinal processes, immunity, and the regulation of body temperature. Lack of sufficient iron makes the body unable to produce enough haemoglobin. This results in functional and health impairment which adversely affects the functioning of several organ systems.
Amount of Iron Need For Everyone
- Infants: 0.27 mg/day
- Kids: 8 mg/day
- Men: 8-11 mg/day
- Women: 10-18 mg/day
Iron deficiency can lead to serious health problems. Today in our health article we will discuss the major causes, symptoms and diseases caused by the deficiency of Iron and how we can treat iron deficiency?
Causes of Iron Deficiency
1) Lack of Iron in Diet: Consuming less dose of iron over time can lead to iron deficiency. This problem usually occurs when you are only on the plant diet. Vegetarians are more prone to iron deficiency because they don’t consume heme iron available in animal products which absorbable form of iron. Vegetarian sources of iron are often high in phytic acid which reduces the absorption. Iron-rich foods include meat, leafy vegetables, eggs and iron-fortified foods.
2) Absorption Problem: Many disorders like gastric problems and inflammatory bowel diseases in the body weaken the stomach acidity which causes a reduction in absorption of iron.
3) Blood Loss: Mostly in adult men and postmenopausal women, chronic blood loss occur from the gastrointestinal tract. This can happen due to hernia, ulcer, excessive intake of NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and other diseases.
4) Increased Demand of Blood: Deficiency of Iron can also occur when the demand for blood increases in the body. This condition arises due to heavy menstruation, at the time of pregnancy, accidents and surgeries, and at the time of blood donation.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
1) Unusual Tiredness & Fatigue: Feeling very tired is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. Fatigue is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency. This is due to less oxygen reaching body tissues, depriving them of energy.
2) Breathing Problem: Due to low haemoglobin levels, the body is not able to transport proper oxygen to muscles and tissues effectively thus the problem in breathing takes place.
3) Headache and Daziness: Due to the deficiency of iron, the decrease of haemoglobin that means not enough oxygen reaches the brain, causing its blood vessels to swell and create pressure.
4) Irregular or Fast Heartbeat: In cases of iron deficiency, the heart has to work extra hard to transport oxygen around the body. This can lead to irregular or fast heartbeats and even heart murmurs, an enlarged heart or heart failure.
5) Pale Skin: The haemoglobin in red blood cells gives blood its red colour. During iron deficiency haemoglobin level reduces, this makes the blood less red. This results in the paleness of skin. You can check paleness due to iron deficiency on your face, lower inner eyelid or nails.
6) Dry & Damaged Skin: During iron deficiency, the level of haemoglobin lowers thus skin cells receive less oxygen. This results in the dryness of skin and severe cases, your skin starts damaging.
7) Brittle Nails: Brittle or spoon-shaped nails are the major indicators of more severe iron-deficiency anaemia.
8) Other symptoms found in adults include chest pain, swollen tongue, the restlessness of legs and hands, food cravings, weakness, difficulty in focusing, coldness in hands and feet, weak immune system.
9) Symptoms observed in infants and children include Fussy behaviour, slow growth and development issues, reduced appetite.
Major Diseases That Occur Due To Iron Deficiency
The lack of iron causes 40 different indications of diseases because the body begins to lose energy as the immune system begins to give way. Deficiency of iron is a serious problem if taken lightly it may lead to long term health issues. Let’s major diseases that occur due to iron deficiency.
One of the severe diseases caused by the deficiency of iron is anaemia. It is a disease which occurs when there is a decrease in the number of circulating red blood cells in the body. In this condition, haemoglobin levels are so low that the blood is unable to provide enough oxygen to the cells, thus affecting the entire body.
2) Heart Diseases
Deficiency of iron can lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. When you are anaemic, your heart is required to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen transmitted in your blood due to deficiency of iron. But when there is an obstacle in this process, then it may lead to heart failure.
3) Inadequate Growth
The development and growth of infants and kids are majorly affected by the deficiency of iron. Children need the appropriate amount of iron for growth and production of energy. Those children who have poor diets, high in refined foods are at risk of iron deficiency.
4) Complications in Pregnancy
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of iron deficiency. At the time of pregnancy, the female body produces more blood to support the growth of the baby. But if they are getting sufficient iron and other nutrients, the body won’t be able to produce a large number of red blood cells to make additional blood. This increases the risk of premature births and babies with low birth-weight and postpartum depression.
5) Colon Cancer
Iron deficiency is one of the causes of colon cancer. People who are suffering from iron deficiency are at a greater risk of developing colon cancer.
6) Depression & Anxiety
Iron deficiency can result in depression and anxiety. Lack of iron intake results in loss of energy, chronic fatigue or you feeling sluggish all time and changes in appetite happens all these factors leads to depression and anxiety.
Also Read: Best Tips For Beating Depression
7) Hair Loss
Iron deficiency can also cause hair loss. Actually, there are two types of iron found in our body Serum Iron and Ferritin. Out of which Ferritin is the essential component for hair growth. If the level of iron gets down in the body then it causes dryness in hair, hair loses its texture and natural colour. And the hair follicles become very thin and weak and start falling off.
Hence, iron deficiency should be recognized and treated timely to avoid the mentioned diseases.
Ways of Treating Iron Deficiency
You have read above the causes, symptoms and diseases that occur due to Iron Deficiency. This kind of deficiency can not be ignored as it can lead to several health issues as we mentioned already. Thus proper diagnosis and medication are necessary before the condition gets worse. It can be easily diagnosed by taking a haemoglobin test which measures haemoglobin or haematocrit test which shows the percentage of red blood cells in your blood. The decrease in haemoglobin levels symbolises insufficiency of iron. Some of the ways to treat Iron deficiency in your body are discussed below.
1) Increase Intake of Iron-Rich Foods
Moderate deficiency of iron can be cured by adding iron-rich foods in your diet. The iron from animal sources like meat, chicken and eggs are more easily absorbed by our body. If you are a vegetarian, you need to increase your intake of plant-based foods which are rich in iron to absorb the same amount of iron.
2) Go For Iron Supplements
You can also take Iron supplements such as iron tablets and capsules. Doctors recommend refilling the iron stores in your body with iron supplements. To facilitate better absorption of iron in the tablets, it is beneficial to take them as suggested by your doctor.
3) Take Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron in the body. Take citrus juice and other fruits that are rich in vitamin C at that time when you eat high iron foods. Citrus juices include orange juice and lemon juice which helps our body to absorb dietary iron in a better way.
Here we are concluding, but we recommend that please we include sufficient iron as part of your healthy diet. Because iron deficiency cannot be cured overnight. If your deficiency is severe, it can take several months. So don’t become iron deficient, consult your doctor to avoid any complexities. Stay fit, stay healthy!