The main purpose of iron in your body is so that it can carry oxygen in the haemoglobin found in the red blood cells and supply it to your body. Iron deficiency is common. It manifests in many ways. When the body does not get enough of iron, it can easily lead to anaemia. There are other types of anaemia but iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common.
At it’s worst, iron deficiency can impact your concentration and even productivity. For most people, poor health becomes the norm. So how do you know you are low on iron?
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This one is tried and tested. Unexplained tiredness is one of the biggest complaints from people who are low on iron. Our busy lives today can contribute to tiredness. This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to diagnose iron deficiency by fatigue alone.
2. You feel dizzy or have headaches
In very simple terms, if you are nursing frequent headaches it could mean there is not enough oxygen in your brain. When your iron stores are so low that there is not enough haemoglobin in your blood, subsequently the blood vessels in the brain might swell causing pressure and headaches. There are many other reasons you could be having headaches but to be sure, you might need to check if iron deficiency is one of them.
3. Your skin is pale
Yes. Lack of iron sometimes will show on your skin. Give it to your body. It is a super intelligent machine that knows how to prioritise. When you are low on iron, it will direct any reserve it has to more important organs and bodily tissues. It is upon you to identify pale skin as a symptom and act on it.
4. Strange cravings/Pica
If you are the kind who likes to nibble on stones, clay, toothpaste or just weird things you find on your path, it could be a pointer to iron deficiency. There are other reasons people crave certain things but to be sure that iron is not one of them, get tested.
This is one of the reasons why most women run low on iron. Pregnant women have to produce enough iron for themselves and the unborn child. Sometimes, women have to take iron supplements during pregnancy or up their intake of foods with the mineral.
6. You have a sore tongue/mouth
Studies have shown that iron deficiency causes soreness in the tongue. Sometimes your tongue might swell or become pale. It is also possible to get very dry lips or cracks around your mouth.
7. Cold hands and feet
There are other mineral deficiencies that cause your hands and feet to feel cold. However, to be sure what This triggers a condition known as anaemia; one symptom of anaemia is cold hands and feet. Eat liver, oysters and spinach to boost iron intake.
What to do if your iron levels are low
You can boost your iron intake by eating foods that are rich in the mineral.
Organ meats like liver, brain, kidneys and heart are known to have high levels of iron. Spinach is nutritious and will give you the iron minus the calories.
You can also take iron supplements under your doctor's instructions.