How to Tell if You Have an Iron Deficiency


The symptoms of an iron deficiency are pretty easy to spot.


Out of all the minerals that our body needs to function, iron is one of the most important. We need iron to produce hemoglobin, the protein that allows oxygen to travel throughout your body. In the United states alone, there are 10 million iron-deficient people, which is dangerous because low iron levels can cause anemia and other health complications.

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Menstruating and pregnant women are especially at risk for iron deficiency because of blood loss, and the fact that pregnant women have to intake enough iron for both their own body, and the baby’s. Vegetarians and vegans are also at risk, since it is much easier to get iron from protein than it is from plants. Here are a few ways you can tell if you are iron deficient:

Poor circulation- If your hands and feet are always cold, it’s possible you aren’t getting enough iron.

Restless leg syndrome- If you have an unrelenting urge to shake your legs, or feel strange tingling or burning sensations, it could be linked to low iron.

Swollen tongue- If your tongue expands to the point where it is no longer bumpy, you may have atrophic glossitis, a swollen tongue that may be a result of iron deficiency.

Strange food cravings- If you have weird cravings for ice, or dirt, or clay, or anything that doesn’t have any nutritional value, you may need to amp up your iron intake.

Your best bet for increasing your iron levels is animal by-products, but you can also take supplements if animal protein isn’t really your thing. However you get it, make sure you pay attention to your iron levels, especially if you are tired all the time, feel generally out of focus, and have discolored, pale skin.

Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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