Did you know that anemia, caused by a severe deficiency of iron, is one of the most common nutritional deficiency diseases in the world? Two billion people–over 30 percent of the world’s population–are anemic, many due to iron deficiency, according to the WHO.

Anemia is characterized by a reduced ability of the blood to carry oxygen to different parts of the body, resulting in weakness and tiredness. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia.

Hemoglobin are globular proteins that carry oxygen molecules throughout the body. A single hemoglobin structure consists of four iron pigments containing positively charged iron molecules. These iron molecules can reversibly bind to oxygen and carry them to various parts of the body.

A deficiency of iron decreases the hemoglobin’s oxygen-carrying capacity. Iron binds to a protein as it is an integral part of hemoglobin, which is part of your red blood cells and helps transport oxygen to parts of the body where it is needed.

Depending on their age, adults need about 15 to 18 milligrams of iron on a daily basis, and about 27 milligrams if you are pregnant, but make sure you speak to your doctor first to be sure of your daily requirements. [1]

6 Signs You Are Suffering From An Iron Defficiency

1. You’re Always Tired
While you may be busy and shrug off your fatigue to a hard day at work, if you are regularly tired without any obvious reason, it could be due to an iron deficiency. Low levels of iron in your blood decrease the amount of oxygen that can reach your tissues, causing a deficit of energy.

2. You Look Pale
The red color of your blood is due to the amount of hemoglobin in your body, which gives you a rosy complexion. Low levels of hemoglobin would mean that you’ll lose that sheen and end up looking pale and weak. Check the inside of your lower eyelids as well as your gums and the insides of your lips. If they’re pale too, it’s time for you to get the blood work done to check your iron levels.

3. You Suffer From Breathlessness
Iron helps transport oxygen throughout your body, but when you are deficient in this important mineral, you may fall short of breath, even if you’re walking over to the grocery store.

4. You Have Low Stamina
Do you find it difficult to do the same amount of exercise you were doing all this while? If yes, it is possible that your iron stores are depleted, which can affect your endurance levels and stamina, too.

5. Your Muscles Are Aching
A lack of iron can make it difficult for your muscles to recover, especially if you regularly workout or exercise, leaving them aching and sore.

6. You Fall Sick Often
Iron keeps your immunity strong, but a lack of it can make you prone to infections and diseases, making you fall sick often.

Foods To Add To Your Diet

  • Liver, especially beef and pork, is loaded with iron, so make sure you get a plateful. If you’re not okay with liver, opt for egg yolks or red meat instead.
  • Add some oysters to your plate to up your iron levels. You can also include mussels, clams, squids, tuna and salmon in your diet.
  • Chickpeas make another iron-rich food and you can add them to your salads and pasta.
  • Beans are a great source of iron and will make a great addition to your pastas, salads and even sautéed vegetables or meat dishes.
  • Pumpkin seeds are packed with iron and make a great snack, too.

Warning
While it is important to have iron in your body, too much of it can cause a condition known as hemochromatosis, which can damage your heart and liver as well as lead to other health conditions such as diabetes or arthritis. While women mostly tend to lose the excess iron during their monthly period and if they are pregnant, men are most likely to suffer from an excess buildup of iron. [2]

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Diseases & Conditions here.

Read More:
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What’s Up Down There: What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia

References:
1. What Are The Health Benefits of Iron? Site http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287228.php (Accessed 25 Aug 2015)
2. What Is Hemochromatosis? Site http://www.emedicinehealth.com/hemochromatosis-health/article_em.htm (Accessed on 26 Aug 2015)

A pregnancy & babycare writer as well as wellness believer, Debolina is always trying to bring in health and wellness into her family’s, especially her kids’, lives. With a Master’s degree in English literature, she has worked with several mothercare and babycare brands. In her free time, she helps with campaigns that work towards promoting the health and well-being of women and babies. Her experiences as a mother help her talk about busy modern-day parenting and its changing trends.