Do you get winded or tire out easily from daily activities? Get cold all too often and too easy? These are both symptoms of a person who has Iron Deficient Anemia. I should know, I suffer with this.
What Is IRON?
Iron is a mineral needed by our bodies. Iron is a part of all cells and does many things in our bodies. For example, iron (as part of the protein hemoglobin) carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies. Having too little hemoglobin is called anemia. Iron also helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Iron deficient people usually tire out easily because their bodies are starved for oxygen.
Iron is a part of many enzymes and is used in many cell functions. Enzymes help our bodies digest foods and also help with many other important reactions that occur within our bodies. When our bodies don’t have enough iron, many parts of our bodies are affected. Iron also acts as a transport medium for electrons within the cells in the form of cytochromes, and as an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues. Too little iron can interfere with these vital functions and lead to morbidity and death.
Why It Affects YOU!
Iron defiency can hinder (or delay) day to day activities and mental functions. It can also increase the chances of giving birth to an early term baby. Early term babies are more prone to having health problems or even suffering death within their first year of life than those who complete or extend their due time. Having iron deficiency can also cause you fatigue that can impair you from doing physical labor. It can also affect the memory and other mental functions. Continued iron deficiency may progress to anemia and worsening fatigue. Thrombocytosis, or an elevated platelet count, can also result. A lack of sufficient iron levels in the blood is a reason that some people cannot donate blood.
Normally, people who are at risk of iron deficieny include women of child-bearing age who have blood loss through menstruation; pregnant or lactating women who have an increased requirement for iron; infants, children, and adolescents in rapid growth phases; and people with a poor dietary intake of iron through a diet of little or no meat or eggs for several years. Risk factors related to blood loss are peptic ulcer disease, long term aspirin use, or colon cancer. Vegetarians can also be at risk since they don’t eat meat but that can be reversed since there are many leafy greens that contain a great supply of iron such as broccoli and spinach. Dark green veggies will normally contain more of your iron minerals.
Showing Any SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms of iron deficiency include having a pale skin color, hair loss (AHH!!!), irritability, weakness and fatigue, pica which is a sudden want for non-nutritive substances which include wanting chalk or clay (craving some Georgia White Dirt?), PVS or Plummer Vinson Syndrome which occurs in the tongue and can cause a burning sensation, a weakened or impaired immune system, pagophagia which is pretty much an obsession with ice or iced drinks, and difficulty regulating body temperature and keeping warm, dizziness, shortness of breath, and headaches – namely frontal (and I just had one this morning….), and decreased appetites.
Also another interesting thing to look at are your nails. I never realized myself how many signs your nails could show that could link to different problems within your body. Alot of these signs may or may not be related to iron deficiency, but it interested me so much I wanted you guys to really look down this list and make sure your nails are giving you good signals…
- Brittleness is associated with iron deficiency, thyroid problems, and impaired kidney function.
- Splitting and fraying are associated with psoriasis and deficiencies of folic acid, protein and Vitamin C.
- Unusual thickness is associated with circulation problems.
Shape and Texture
- Clubbing, or nails that curve down around the fingertips with nailbeds that bulge is associated with oxygen deprivation and lung, heart, or liver disease.
- Spooning, or nails that grow upwards is associated with iron or B12 deficiency.
- Pitting of the nails is associated with Psoriasis.
- Ridges across the nail indicate stress.
- Beau’s lines are ridges in the nail.
Discoloration of Entire Nail Bed
- Yellowing of the nail bed is associated with chronic bronchitis, lymphatic problems, diabetes, and liver disorders.
- Brown or copper nail beds are associated with arsenic or copper poisoning, and local fungal infection.
- Redness is associated with heart conditions.
Other Color Changes and Markings
- Melanonychia (longitudinal streaking that darkens or does not grow out), especially on the thumb or big toe, may indicate subungual melanoma.
- White lines across the nail (leukonychia striata, or transverse leukonychia) may be Mees’ lines or Muehrcke’s lines.
- Small white patches are known as leukonychia punctata.
- Dark nails are associated with B12 deficiency.
- Stains of the nail plate (not the nail bed) are associated with smoking, and henna use.
(This information was taken from wikipedia that will be linked in the Resources section)
How to Get BETTER!
See your doctor asap if you detect you may have iron deficiency. Treatment will thus be taken depending on age, health, and cause of iron deficiency. More than likely it will be requested that you get on an iron supplement regimen which costs maybe $4-5 at a Walmart or something. This is going to be the fastest way in which to up your iron intake. But an alternative to that is eating a diet that is high in iron. Foods being dark leafy greens (spinach (Popeye was seriously on the right track!), broccoli, collards…), lean red meats (steak, hamburgers, beef…), etc. It is very important though to get diagnosed by your doctor first because iron deficiency can also be related to something else besides having a low iron intake when eating. Keeping a diet rich in iron will most likely be your best bet to keep from becoming iron deficient.
But beware of getting too much iron intake. Overload of iron minerals in your body can cause your body to develop Hemochromatosis which is Iron Storage Disease. Hemochromatosis occurs when the body absorbs too much iron from foods and other sources such as vitamins containing iron. This disease causes extra iron to gradually build up in the body’s tissues and organs, a term called iron overload. If this iron buildup is not treated, it can, over many years, damage the body’s organs. More information on this subject can be found in the resources section at the bottom of this post.
Please you all, take charge of your health. I’m glad I did my research, I didn’t realize iron deficiency was THAT serious. I actually took my iron supplement while I typed this out, I had fallen off track with it for the past two weeks and have definitely felt some more symptoms come on. This morning’s pounding headache was the last straw. So take care of your health! More posts like these will be coming in the future! 🙂
Iron Deficiency Anemia — Mama’s Health: http://www.mamashealth.com/nutrition/anemia.asp
Iron and Iron Deficiency — CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html
Iron Deficiency — Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_deficiency
Nail Disease — Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nail_disease#Shape_and_texture
Hemochromatosis (Iron Storage Disease) — CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemochromatosis/facts.html