Iron is an essential mineral that is in charge of a couple of functions in our body. The most important function is the production of red blood cells which are in charge of oxygen transportation. Iron is also a part of many enzymes and helps them in their performance.
What is iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency, also known as anaemia is a common nutritional deficiency, mostly in children and pre-menopausal women. In case of anaemia, our body is unable to maintain normal levels of haemoglobin in the blood.
Haemoglobin is a substance present in the red blood cells that allows them to transport the oxygen throughout our body. When we lack iron, the body produces insufficient amount of red blood cells. This results in functional and health impairment which affects the function of some organ systems.
Iron deficiency can be caused by couple of reasons such as blood loss, insufficient consumption with food, iron mal-absorption etc. Women, infants, children, vegetarians and blood donors are most likely to suffer from this condition.
Iron Deficiency Symptoms
- Tiredness and weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
- Lack of concentration
- Slow cognitive and social development during childhood
- Coldness in hands and feet
- Difficulty in the maintenance of body temperature
- Slow immune function
- Glossitis (inflamed tongue)
How to treat iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency should NOT be ignored as it can lead to serious health problems. Proper diagnosis and treatment of this problem are important before the condition gets worse.
Our body can absorb iron from animal sources like meat, poultry and eggs more easily. If you are a vegetarian, increase your intake of iron-rich plant-based foods to ingest the same amount of iron as the meat sources.
Since some people can’t take the proper amount of iron with food, there are capsules and tablets to treat this condition. It is best to take them on an empty stomach.
Consumption of Vitamin C rich foods
Vitamin C enhances the body’s absorption of iron. That’s why nutritionists recommend taking iron supplements with vitamin C rich juices (lemon, orange etc.).