Women are more susceptible to iron deficiency.
We all have our good and bad days: There are times you wake up feeling great after a solid eight hours of sleep, and there are others where you just feel extra tired – especially if it’s a been a busy week and you haven’t been getting enough rest. But if you’ve noticed your energy levels steadily dipping, and you’re constantly feeling light-headed or lethargic, iron deficiency might be to blame.
Unsurprisingly, more women suffer from iron deficiency than men (Blame our monthly periods!). Left untreated, iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, lowered immunity and even heart complications. Familiarise yourself with the warning signs of this condition so you can look out for and prevent them.
Tiredness and lethargy
When you’re iron-deficient, your body’s level of red blood cells and haemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells which contains iron) is lower than usual. This means there’s a reduced flow of oxygen being carried around in the bloodstream, and this can cause you to feel sluggish and lethargic.
Shortness of breath
Without enough iron in your blood, your heart has to work harder to circulate oxygen to the rest of your body. This can cause you to feel breathless and light-headed more easily and may be especially obvious if you physically exert yourself.
That healthy glow that people talk about is real. Haemoglobin is what gives your blood its deep red colour, and that shows through your skin. If you’re iron deficient, you may end up looking more wan or ashen than usual. Here’s another easy test you can do: Gently tug down the bottom of your eyelids – if the insides are pale pink or whitish instead of a healthy red, it could be an indication that you’re not getting enough iron too.
Feeling more jittery than usual? Low iron levels might have something to do with it. Previous studies have linked iron deficiency to symptoms of panic attacks like stress or anxiety. This could also be due to an irregular heart rate as your body does its best to cope with lower haemoglobin stores.
So, how do I get more iron?
There are many ways to increase your body’s iron levels to combat the above symptoms. For starters, you can eat iron-rich foods like red meat, beans or fish. Another way to manage iron deficiency anaemia is to consider taking supplements, which can help replace iron loss in the body. While such supplements are widely available, it is advisable to speak to your physician before you take any medication or supplements.
This article is sponsored by Sangobion.