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Iron deficiency anemia signs

Iron deficiency - symptoms, causes and a targeted treatment

Do you want to find out more about iron deficiency, recognize it more quickly and treat it correctly? Then you've come to the right place. Iron is one of the most important building blocks of a healthy human body. Unfortunately, a deficiency of this trace element is widespread in many Western nations and can be recognized by a variety of physical symptoms.

As an iron deficiency often goes unrecognized, I would like to use this article to help you ensure a sustainable supply of iron. Let's go!

You can find a brief overview here in advance:

  1. Briefly explained
  2. Symptoms
  3. Causes
  4. Treatment
  5. Closing words

Notice: This article is not a substitute for medical advice, but merely provides general ways to correct an iron deficiency. Please consult your doctor if you feel unwell or want to prevent health problems with medical care.

Iron - the neglected nutrient

The chemical element is found, very finely distributed, in every human body. A healthy organism has a few grams of iron in total, mainly as a component of red blood cells.

Even if a healthy and Sustainable nutrition is on the menu, few people constantly think about an adequate intake of iron. As most nutrients are gradually depleted, iron must be regularly consumed through food. Our modern eating habits are not necessarily designed for thisiron deficiency has become a widespread disease, which in turn affects others, nutrition-related diseases can have as a result.

What makes the situation more difficult: even if sustainable consumersSupply sufficient nutrientsthey often do not know how much iron a food contains. Unlike vitamins and minerals, the iron content is rarely indicated on packaging.

What does iron actually do in the body?

Iron is Basis for the formation of the pigment in red blood cellsalso known as haemoglobin. In addition to coloration, iron fulfills a very useful function: oxygen absorbed through respiration binds to the iron and can be transported to all cells in the body via the bloodstream.

If there is an iron deficiency, the production of haemoglobin is no longer regulated. Oxygen can no longer be transported properly through the body, which far-reaching consequences for the vitality and functionality of our organism has. After all, a basic building block for the production of a sufficient number of red blood cells is missing, so that the body's entire supply system can be thrown out of kilter.

Can I store iron in my body?

The good news: Yes, the body stores iron absorbed through food as so-called Ferritin storage. This storage takes place primarily in the spleen and liver. If there is an iron deficiency, the body can first use up the stored ferritin before real deficiency symptoms appear.

Unfortunately, millions of people in this country are unable to make use of their stored ferritin. Due to malnutrition, the Stocks usually used up long ago. Re-storage is not possible, as the iron absorbed through food is needed directly for the production of hemoglobin.

Symptoms: How does an iron deficiency manifest itself?

Fatigue - symptoms of iron deficiency

The importance of iron for the human body is not limited to the formation of hemoglobin. The trace element is an important component of other body building blocksfor example of myoglobin, an important muscle protein. The symptoms are therefore also varied in nature. However, it is particularly common when the production of red blood cells comes to a standstill.

Typical consequences and signs of an insufficient supply of iron in the body are above all

  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Torn corners of the mouth
  • Very light skin coloration
  • Blistering in the mouth
  • Constant feeling of tiredness
  • Lack of motivation

Many of the physical symptoms arise because the organism transmits the available and bound oxygen to vital organs and ensures that they function properly. In comparison, shiny hair or beautiful fingernails are a "luxury good" for the body. In the event of a severe deficiency, the entire supply of oxygen to the body can suffer. This is then reflected above all in poor performance, tiredness or a lack of concentration.

Tip: How to get away from iron deficiency become fundamentally more concentrated I will explain in a separate article. Feel free to take a look!

Causes: When does iron deficiency often occur?

Iron deficiency is particularly common in pregnant women

Can I actually prepare myself for an iron deficiency? Ideally, the undersupply of the essential trace element does not occur in the first place. Among other things through the Targeted consumption of iron-rich foodssuch as pulses, green vegetables, nuts, seeds and kernels, for example, you can prevent this health problem.

In some phases of life, however, iron deficiency can be expected due to the greater strain on the body. Taking an iron supplement can also help your body in situations where a lot of red blood cells need to be produced or the body is performing at its best.

Iron deficiency is particularly common in:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Blood donors directly after blood collection
  • Competitive athletes
  • Intensively physically working people

As all of these situations can be predicted, you can also take iron as a preventative measure. This will alleviate the impending effects of an undersupply of oxygen and prevent a lack of haemoglobin from occurring in the first place.

Treatment: How can an iron deficiency be treated?

Quinoa and hazelnuts are rich in iron

ToTreat iron deficiency properlythe first step, together with your family doctor, is to determine the Clarify the cause. In the case of pregnant women or competitive athletes, the deficiency can usually be explained immediately. In this case, it is worth taking iron over a limited period of time during which the particular stress exists.

In other cases, it is important to find out whether the body is receiving a sufficient amount of iron. There are people who consume the recommended daily dose through a healthy and balanced diet and still suffer from iron deficiency. In such cases, a Disturbance of the metabolism which must be diagnosed and treated by the attending physician.

For the majority of those affected, however, iron deficiency occurs because insufficient amounts of the trace element are supplied in the daily diet. One Adjustment of the menu or the Taking supplements can solve the problem sustainably.

How much iron should I consume?

Depending on size, age and gender, it is assumed that the human body can store between two and four grams of iron. This would be the equivalent of 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams. On average, it is assumed that the body needs 1.0 milligram of iron per day.

The problem: The gastrointestinal tract can only utilize a fraction of the iron ingested with food.

It is roughly assumed that one tenth of the iron in food becomes a trace element available to the body. With a requirement of 1.0 milligram per day, you should therefore a minimum daily intake of 10.0 milligrams of iron through food should be. In order not to be exactly at this lower limit, an intake of 12.0 to 15.0 milligrams per day is often recommended.

If this covers the individual iron requirement, additional iron would serve to store it in the body. It is therefore it makes sense to supply more than the 15.0 milligrams mentioned above over a longer period of timeto slowly build up a new iron store in the body. The body can draw on this if a renewed deficiency occurs through the diet.

The special cases mentioned above, such as Pregnant women or competitive athletes, the increased intake of of 20 or 30 milligrams per day is recommended. Your doctor can determine which value is appropriate for your individual case based on the evaluation of your blood values. Monitoring iron levels is mandatory during pregnancy anyway.

Can I consume too much iron per day?

Anyone who has recognized that they have an iron deficiency will want to compensate for it as quickly as possible. There is little point in taking an overdose of iron over a short period of time and believing that the body will store these large quantities. Anyone who reads serious reports andBooks on the subject of nutritionknows that many of the nutrients supplied are not metabolized and are excreted again if they are supplied in too large quantities in too short a time.

Doctors advise against overdosing with iron due to the risk of organ damage. This is difficult to achieve with Western eating habits anyway, basically only by taking an overdose of food supplements. If you take such supplements for a longer period of time, you should therefore consult your family doctor. They know the most importantReference values for vitaminsand minerals that are at risk of deficiency.

Is a vegetarian diet a risk factor?

Traditionally, meat and other animal foods have been known to contain more iron on average than plant foods. Fortunately, iron is also found in many plants. Anyone who eats a vegan diet, like me, is nevertheless at greater risk of iron deficiency. Iron is one of the potentially critical nutrients in the vegan lifestyle.

It is not so much the amount of iron in the food that plays a role here, but the possibility of absorption by the organism. The above figure of 10 percent iron that enters the metabolism from food can be broken down further. Due to its chemical structure, animal iron is absorbed as "bivalent iron" with an average proportion of 20 percent. Plant iron, also known as "trivalent iron", averages 5 percent. This means: Es requires a significantly larger amount of plant-based foodsto reach the daily dose of iron.

It therefore makes sense for vegetarians and vegans in particular to have their iron levels checked regularly. By taking a supplement, the deficiency can definitely be compensated for in the long term without having to compromise on dietary habits.

What foods can I take in iron?

Food against iron deficiency

Many animal products such as meat are known to be a source of iron. Especially black pudding, liver or beef and pork. However, as I eat a purely plant-based diet, I switch to vegan sources of iron. These include above all

  • Pumpkin seeds(12.5 mg per 100 gram)
  • Soybeans (11 mg per 100 gram)
  • Hulled hemp seeds(9.6 mg per 100 gram)
  • Lenses (8 mg per 100 gram)
  • Quinoa(8 mg per 100 grams)
  • Tempeh(5 mg per 100 gram)
  • Oatmeal(4.6 mg per 100 grams)
  • Dried apricots(4.4 mg per 100 gram)
  • Hazelnuts(3.8 mg per 100 gram)

Soy and lentils are good sources of iron and should ideally be consumed daily. There is no general recommended amount to consume, but a doctor should always be consulted if an iron deficiency is discovered. This will show how much iron should be consumed per day. If this is not compatible with your own lifestyle or current situation, you should consider supplementing with an iron supplement.

Should I take a dietary supplement to combat iron deficiency?

High-quality supplements are useful, but do not have to be taken for every iron deficiency. The doctor treating the patient may determine that the patient has an extremely unhealthy diet with a number of deficiency symptoms. If a new and balanced diet is worked out, the deficiency of iron and other trace elements, minerals and vitamins should disappear in the long term.

At the other end of the spectrum are pregnant or breastfeeding women, who are almost always advised to take an iron supplement for several months. In the middle are people who otherwise have no major nutrient deficiencies and only have an iron deficiency. This can be changed with a targeted intake of a supplement in order to remain efficient and replenish the internal stores.

I can generally recommend the following dietary supplements with iron:

Is there anything I need to be aware of when taking it?

As if the absorption of iron by the body were not difficult enough, other components of food can slow it down. One example is caffeine, which is found in Tea and coffee is found in the stomach. The tannins it contains bind the iron ions in the stomach so that they cannot enter the metabolism. If you regularly reach for a cup of coffee throughout the day, you should not be surprised about an iron deficiency.

It is generally recommended to take an iron supplement with sufficient time between meals. Capsules should only be washed down with a little water when taken. This ensures that no unwanted binding of iron takes place and that the maximum amount of bivalent or trivalent iron enters the bloodstream via the intestine.

At the beginning you should also carefully dosed become. The absorption of iron often leads to stomach pain, and a dark coloration of the stool is not uncommon. These are normal signs of the body and prove that a significant proportion of the iron supplied cannot be absorbed by the body. If the body becomes accustomed to it after a few weeks, the dose can be increased if necessary.

Iron deficiency can usually be remedied

Iron deficiency is not uncommon in Germany and many western nations. An inadequate diet is often to blame, which no longer allows the body to build up its own iron stores. Special aspects of life, such as regular competitive sport or pregnancy, become an additional burden. As a rule, however, iron deficiency is one of the health problems that can be diagnosed quickly and remedied in a targeted manner.

Changing your diet or taking iron supplements can gently combat the deficiency. Treatment over a few months is often sufficient to replenish internal iron stores. This should be done under medical supervision after an individual blood count to avoid over- or underdosing. So please do not hesitate to see your doctor if you experience the symptoms described.

Do you have any questions, tips or your own experiences with iron deficiency that you would like to share? Then I look forward to your comment.

Stay healthy,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Do vegans actually have better blood values? You can now find the answer in the linked blog article!

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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