Seven Surprising Symptoms of Iron Deficiency (post contains affiliate links)
Before we get into the seven surprising symptoms of iron deficiency, I want to distinguish between the different types of anemia.
What is Anemia?
The most basic definition of anemia is that there are not enough red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen in your blood through your body.
Anemia is commonly caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
For example, at least five (5) different types of anemia can be related to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
- Vitamin E deficiency rarely results in the type of anemia known as Hemolytic anemia.
- B6 deficiency results in Microcytic anemia.
- B12 deficiency results in Pernicious anemia–perhaps the most deadly anemia of all. Note that it can get confusing when distinguishing between B12 and Folate deficiency because both can also result in megaloblastic anemia
- Folate deficiency can lead to Macrocytic, also known as, Megaloblastic anemia.
And last, but most certainly not least, Iron deficiency anemia.
First of all, I need to emphasize:
Because anemia can be such a complex illness,
it is important that you have your blood tested
if you suspect that you or anyone in your family might have anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common and most well known type of anemia. However, if you start taking supplements to treat iron deficiency, and iron deficiency isn’t the root cause, you will not be treating the root cause of the anemia. Not only that but you can make matters worse. This is because too much of one vitamin in your body can and probably will interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and use other vitamins or minerals.
In essence, anemia of any kind means that there aren’t enough red blood cells in your blood. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. Thus, lack of red blood cells to carry oxygen through your blood will result in a lack of energy.
Oxygen is extremely important for energy!
This is why being tired is one of the hallmark symptoms of anemia.
All types of anemia can lead to feeling fatigue, however.
Thus, this is not the best way to tell what type of anemia you have.
Seven surprising symptoms of iron deficiency.
- Unusual cravings for nonfood items such as ice, dirt, or laundry detergent starch. The actual eating of nonfood items, which is more common in young children, is called “pica.”
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and young children
- Headache, dizziness, or light headedness
- Brittle Nails
Iron deficiency is common in the following groups:
- Young children after 1 year of age
- Women during pregnancy
- Women while breastfeeding.
- People taking multiple medications, particularly the elderly
So, obviously Iron deficiency means “low iron.” So how does low iron affect the red blood cell? Well, first of all, the hemoglobin (think: blood) molecule, which makes up red blood cells contains iron at the very center. (See picture to the right). In other words, if there is not enough iron present in the body, hemoglobin cannot be created by the body. If there isn’t enough hemoglobin, there won’t be enough red blood cells. If there is not enough red blood cells, there will a lack of oxygen available to create energy for you or your children to use.
Iron deficiency anemia is a serious illness and should not be taken lightly.
Iron deficiency anemia increases risk of illness, fatigue, delayed growth and development, and even permanent mental retardation.
Thus, it is important that you have your blood checked regularly to make sure you are healthy.
Until next time, Debbie. 🙂