Iron deficiency, or hypoferremia, is a common nutritional deficiency in milder forms, but can lead to death if severe enough. Iron is present in all human cells and carries oxygen in our blood to the tissues in our bodies, transports electrons within cells and is responsible for enzyme reactions in various tissues.
The most common cause of iron deficiency is a long term loss of excessive amounts of blood such as in heavy menstrual cycles, peptic ulcers, colon and uterine cancer and long term ASA use. Other causes could include not enough iron rich foods in your diet, or poor absorption due to interference of another substance or malabsorption syndromes.
Symptoms of iron deficiency may often not be so noticeable in the beginning, but once diagnosed and treated may become retroactively obvious. As well, the symptoms are not unique to iron deficiency and may emerge as either primary results of the deficiency itself or secondary results of the anemia eventually caused by the deficiency.
Iron deficiency Symptoms include:
- fatigue and a decrease in energy levels (something that is also often a symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency, which both are often causes of anemia)
- pallor and dark circles under the eyes
- hair loss (when looking at the proper vitamins and minerals for hair growth make sure you have some iron!)
- pica which is a craving for non-food substances like dirt, chalk, soap, etc., but for it to be considered true pica the condition must be present for more than a month and at an age where eating such substances is considered abnormal
- nails that are brittle or have grooves in them (as show on the picture)
- Plummer-Vinson Syndrome which presents as a burning sensation on the tongue and the back of the tongue is smooth, shiny and red
- A form of Pica involving the obsessive consumption of ice or iced drinks
- Low blood pressure—postural hypotension caused by standing too fast from a lying or sitting position
- Shortness of Breath
Children with iron deficiency and anemia may suffer poor growth development and learning difficulties and be more prone to infections. However early detection, diagnosis and treatment can rectify this situation with no complications. Once it is determined a person is prone to iron deficiency, it is important to follow up regularly to avoid relapse. If you and your doctor determine that you are iron deficient, iron supplements are an easy way to get your iron levels back on track. Consult with your doctor or health care practitioner to determine the appropriate dosage.
If you are looking for some of the best multivitamins make sure to take one with iron if you are suspecting you might have iron deficiency, or just for an added boost. Also, one of the vitamin C benefits for those with iron deficiency is that it helps with iron absorption so if you have poor intake of vitamin C this might be a reason you have iron deficiency symptoms and having both of these in a multivitamin might work very well to clear your deficiency. If you suspect you are showing signs of iron deficiency symptoms, it is best to see your physician who will order blood tests and treat the condition accordingly. You might also want to make sure you are not suffering from calcium deficiency symptoms or zinc deficiency symptoms which are often related mineral deficiencies.