We’re women. We menstruate, which means each month we lose some iron because of blood loss. Some of us handle that without skipping a beat, and others need to monitor iron levels and sometimes take action. It’s a simple health fact, yet iron deficiency is often overlooked as a health condition that can be managed rather easily and to highly beneficial results.
We may repeat this a couple of times, it’s important. If any of the symptoms below sound familiar, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test will measure your iron and you can get information on the right product (over the counter or prescription) and dose or even adding iron rich foods to your diet. One thing you don’t want to do is start taking iron without advice and testing of your doctor. Too much Iron (from supplements) can be fatal, it’s worth the test!
Iron is required for the body’s blood production, especially for red blood cell development. Iron levels affect oxygen supply to the blood as well as the lungs and muscles. The lack of proper amounts of iron can leave a person feeling lethargic, as well as dizzy and short of breath.
Loss of Hair
There is a pattern for hair loss at the front of the head and part. If you’re experiencing new hair loss coupled with any symptoms below, get checked out. Hair loss can be a symptom of a few issues, such as thyroid issues, diet, change in mineral levels. A talk with your doctor is generally recommended.
If you experience dizziness as if you are going to black-out or seeing stars when you stand up fast, you should talk with your doctor.
Fatigue and Tiredness
Feeling short of breath or winded when climbing stairs or doing things that are normally not strenuous to you should be something to note. The same is true when feeling overwhelmingly sleepy or needing a nap when you’ve had enough sleep.
Feeling Cold, All The Time
A deep feeling of cold, sometimes coupled with shaking and inability to feel warm even when the heat is up and you’re covered in blankets. If you’ve said “I can’t seem to get warm” a few times in recent weeks, get your iron checked.
Cravings for iron rich foods, some of which aren’t highly cravable normally can be a sign of iron deficiency. The following list are some foods craved when low in iron, but that’s great news, because they are also some of the highest food sources of iron available. Cravings are our bodies way of connecting a nutritional need to a type of biological food memory. Meaning if we’ve had spinach and benefitted from its iron content it might be why we again crave spinach when low on the micronutrient.
- Liver, organ meats or food such as pâté
- Beans (black are highest in iron)
- Shellfish (especially mollusks)
- Pumpkin seeds
Separate from all the beneficial cravings is one very odd one:
- If you’ve picked up the habit of chewing ice, it may be called a condition called Pica which is related to iron deficiency
Talk with Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing one or more of any of these symptoms, it may be related to iron deficiency. To find out for sure, get a blood test from your doctor and talk with her/him about a course of action.
Many of these symptoms can also fall under anemia. Anemia can be caused from a number of issues, such as B12 deficiency, Vitamin D deficiency or even chronic diseases such as sickle cell anemia. Bottom line, pay attention to your health. Talk with your doctor about changes in energy or any new symptoms.