Iron is important for the production of red blood cells or RBCs that carry oxygen. This is the reason why being deficient in the mineral can have a profound effect on your body — every single cell, tissue and organ of yours requires oxygen.
According to experts, iron deficiency is a commonplace in the US, and women are more prone to it than men. Fortunately, it can be easily reversed. Something as simple as being prescribed with iron supplements can help in the problem’s management. There are also numerous food sources of iron — iron from animal sources is called “heme iron” while iron from plant sources is called “non-heme iron”.
So how can you tell if you should include more iron-containing foods in your diet or consult your doctor to see if taking iron supplements can help? Here are some of the indicators that your body is in need of more iron:
You’re Always Tired
Does it feel like you want to hit the sack but you look at the clock and it’s just 10 in the morning? It’s very much possible that you are deficient in iron, which deprives your tissues of much-needed oxygen, resulting in exhaustion.
You Have Shortness of Breath
Again, your red blood cells are the ones that carry oxygen. Having not enough of those oxygen-transporting cells can leave you breathless after doing activities that you would normally be able to carry out perfectly fine, such as walking for a couple of blocks or climbing a flight of stairs.
Your Heart is Racing
Because your body is not getting enough oxygen, your heart will try to compensate for it by pumping more blood, which leaves it pounding and racing. An overworked heart is a no-no most especially for those with existing heart issues.
You Look Pale
When the number of your red blood cells drops, your skin will surely appear pasty. You can also quickly tell whether or not you are lacking in iron by checking the color of the inside part of your lips and lower eyelids — if they look pale, you may need to consume more foods that are rich in iron.
You’re Craving Weird Stuff
Do you have this urge to munch on ice, chalk, paper, dirt or any other non-nutritive item? That’s called “pica” and it’s a very common symptom seen in many people who are suffering from iron deficiency.
You Have Terrible Headaches
Since your brain is not being supplied with good amounts of oxygen, your head will feel achy. It’s also not unlikely for you to feel lightheaded and sleepy as a result of your brain being deprived of much-needed oxygen. Oh, and by the way, you may also experience severe hair fall as your hair follicles are supplied with less oxygen.
You Have Frequent Infections
According to experts, iron is also a role player in an optimally working immune system. It’s due to this why you may find yourself having frequent bouts of cold and flu if you are not getting enough iron from your diet.