What are the signs that you have an iron deficiency?
- Skin and hair problems
- Fatigue and difficulty breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Restless legs
- Weird cravings
Plenty of people experience iron deficiency due to a diet poor in the nutrient. Normally you can get enough iron if you eat foods such as red meat, shellfish, spinach, legumes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and barley grass. But people who experience heavy periods, are pregnant, or have impaired intestinal iron absorption are also prone to this problem. If untreated, it could weaken your immune system or cause other complications. Keep on reading to learn the signs that you have an iron deficiency.
Skin and Hair Problems
There’s a reason why people think that you have anemia if you have pale skin. This is because your body needs iron to make hemoglobin for the red blood cells. This gives your blood its color.
If you don’t consume enough iron in your diet, you may look paler than usual. Your skin could appear dry and scaly too. Check the color of your nails, gums, and inner lips. If it lacks the healthy pink glow, then you might have an iron deficiency.
Aside from your skin, check your hair as well because hemoglobin is also responsible for transporting oxygen throughout your body. If you lack iron, the cells that stimulate hair growth won’t get enough oxygen. This can lead to hair that is dry, brittle, and can easily fall out.
Fatigue and Difficulty Breathing
As previously mentioned, iron is needed so your red blood cells can transport oxygen in and around your body. The oxygen attaches to the hemoglobin and your red blood cells bring them to your cells, tissues, and muscles for energy.
If you lack iron, you won’t have enough hemoglobin, and the transportation of oxygen becomes problematic. As less oxygen is distributed to your muscles and organs, you will experience fatigue. Your body has to double its efforts to move oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
This is the reason you easily feel tired, sluggish, or weak. As your body tries to get more oxygen, your breathing rate will also increase even when you’re only doing normal daily tasks that you’re used to.
Because lack of iron leads to a lack of oxygen in the body, your heart has to work harder. This is the reason why you might experience heart palpitations. Symptoms include irregular or fast heartbeat.
Over time, a fast heartbeat can lead to problems such as an enlarged heart and heart murmur. If the heart can no longer pump enough blood, then it causes heart failure.
In addition to that, iron deficiency anemia can also make heart conditions worse. It can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain.
A migraine attack can make it hard for you to finish and enjoy your daily activities. You’ll know you’re having this headache when there is throbbing or pulsing on one or both sides of your head. This is usually accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraines have plenty of possible causes such as hormonal changes in women, stress, medications, intense physical exertion, sleep changes, and more. But other than these, migraines have also been associated with iron deficiency anemia.
If you’re a woman, you might also experience menstrual migraines. This is associated with a combination of factors such as changes in serotonin levels, a decline in estrogen, and iron deficiency.
A quarter of people with iron deficiency anemia experience restless legs syndrome (RLS). This condition triggers a powerful urge to move your legs when you’re sitting or lying down. Symptoms such as tingling, pulling, or crawling is also common. These sensations are worse during nighttime.
Although the exact cause of RLS is still being investigated, it has occurred more in people with iron deficiency anemia than in the general population.
Treatment for RLS includes medication that decreases motion in your legs, helps you relax at night, and lessens the sensations. Other than that, you might also try home remedies that can help you relax—such as practicing yoga, taking a hot bath before sleeping, and exercising.
Did you know that cravings for non-food items are also a symptom of iron deficiency? This condition is called pica, which causes you to hunger for ice, soap, clay, buttons, dirt, hair, paint, chalk, and the like. Pica can also be present in pregnant women that have anemia.
Pica happens because your body wants to address the low nutrient levels. But following your cravings can be harmful as it can lead to poisoning, choking, intestinal blockages, and infections.
By knowing the signs that you have an iron deficiency, you can spot them early on. This can help prevent a list of problems including heart disease, poisoning, skin problems, and more.
If you think that you have iron deficiency, it’s advisable to book an appointment with your physician. This way, they can help you point out the root cause of the problem—be it blood loss, inability to absorb iron, pregnancy, or lack of iron in your diet.
To prevent deficiency, consuming iron-rich foods such as Santé Barley Grass can help! It contains a long list of vitamins including iron that is good for your health.
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