Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency! Almost 10% of women are considered iron deficient (According to a study based on American women). Additionally, it is estimated that up to 80% of the world's population may be iron deficient, of which 30% suffer from iron deficiency anemia ( caused by blood loss)
Iron is a vital nutrient that supports many bodily functions. It plays a crucial role in the transport of oxygen in the blood . Unfortunately, a large portion of the population does not consume enough iron-rich foods.
What is iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency is often associated with anemia, a condition characterized by insufficient production of healthy red blood cells. Iron aids in protein metabolism and is essential for the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells . Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness as the body struggles to transport oxygen to the brain, tissues, muscles and cells.
Besides preventing anemia, iron is essential for general well-being, energy and a healthy metabolism. It is also involved in many enzymatic functions , helping with digestion and nutrient absorption.
Iron deficiency can cause:
- chronic fatigue
- Pale or sallow complexion
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulties exercising
- Muscular weakness
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleeping troubles
- Difficulty concentrating
- mouth ulcers
- mood swings
- Unusual cravings (like eating dirt)
- Tingling sensation in the legs
- Brittle nails
- Weakened immune system
- Digestive disorders
Certain groups are at higher risk for iron deficiency, including women of childbearing age, people with unhealthy diets , frequent blood donors, children, cancer patients, and those with gastrointestinal disorders.
Detection and prevention
A simple blood test, called a serum ferritin test , can identify iron deficiency. It is recommended to check your iron level regularly, especially if you are pregnant , vegetarian or suffer from digestive disorders.
Recommended daily intake
Iron intake varies by age and gender. For example, pregnant women need 27 mg of iron per day, while adult men need 8 mg.
How to prevent iron deficiency?
It is essential to consume iron-rich foods . Foods of animal origin contain heme iron, which is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron from plants. Vegetarians and vegans should be particularly careful with their iron intake.
Too much iron can also be problematic , leading to a condition called hemochromatosis. It is essential to consult a doctor before taking iron supplements, especially if you are taking other medications.
Iron deficiency is a common problem, especially in women. Symptoms vary and can affect quality of life. A balanced diet and, if necessary, supplements can help prevent this deficiency.