Iron is arguably one of the most important minerals in your body, and we’ll tell you why. It’s a vital component of hemoglobin, the molecule in your blood cells that carries oxygen. Your body needs oxygen to function to its max, so if you develop a problem with your oxygen supply, you will notice a drop in your quality of life. Iron deficiency results in a disease known as Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA), this simply means that you don’t have enough hemoglobin to produce sufficient RBCs (Red Blood Cells)to carry blood around your body—and that’s a problem.
There are a multitude of reasons for why you could be suffering from IDA. We shouldn’t rule out a shortage of iron in your diet. Red meat, liver, beans and dark leafy vegetables are all a great source of Iron. If your diet is lacking these it could lead to IDA.
This deficiency is more common in females (especially those of child-bearing age) than males, and that’s because of all the blood women lose in menstruation. Pregnant woman are at the worst risk, according to research at the University of Texas at Houston, and that’s because the fetus has an almost parasitic effect on the mother. It extracts iron from her blood to build up its own blood volume. So, falling into that demographic is also a common risk factor.
One should also know some common symptoms of IDA. The most basic is sluggishness and persistent lethargy. The pathophysiology here is quite simple—your RBCs are low so your tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen to carry out their normal functions, hence you feel low on energy. General fatigue does have a broad list of causes, but getting a blood test done should be a top priority if you feel this way for weeks, and if rest also doesn’t help.
You should get suspicious about IDA if you find yourself prone to infections over and over again. That’s because iron is an important mineral in your body’s immune system. Not to mention, your spleen and lymph nodes, both important organs in fighting off pathogens, need a consistent supply of highly oxygenated blood to work to the max in keeping you healthy. If they’re not getting that, you’ll quickly find yourself getting infections that you otherwise would have been able to fight off with ease.
Here’s a funny one—pica is a condition where you start craving non-food items like clay and dirt, because, subconsciously, your brain is desperate for more iron and will do anything to get it. Eating red meat, or any of the foods mentioned above would help alleviate this craving.
Hemoglobin gives your cheeks that rosy hue, so if you find yourself more pale (and not from the cold) you should consider IDA. Don’t get too paranoid, there are a lot of causes for pale skin, but one sure-shot way of making sure is pulling down your lower eyelid and seeing if your sclera is lighter than usual. That’s a problem.
Excessive hair loss and a swollen tongue often come hand in hand with IDA, so if you develop any of those problems, it’s worth getting it checked out.
Speak to your doctor and get started on Iron supplement pills if you feel that you’re experiencing some, or all, of these symptoms. It’s an easy way out and will Improve your quality of life.
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