Written by the Smart Solutions Education Team
Do you ever feel like you’re going through the day with low energy, fatigue and exhaustion? Do you ever notice that your nails seem brittle, your under-eyes seem dark, and you tend to get short of breath? While there may be other medical reasons, you may have an iron deficiency.
When our bodies are low on iron — either because of lack of dietary iron consumption, heavy periods and pregnancy — your body can’t function at its highest potential. Here are some of the signs that you may have an iron deficiency.
Why is iron so important?
In the body, iron acts as a major component of hemoglobin, which is a piece of the proteins inside your red blood cells that carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body tissues. In addition, proper iron levels also support immunity, focus and clarity. Without an adequate amount of iron in your blood, you can experience adverse side effects and health problems.
What can cause low iron?
There are lots of causes for low iron, especially in women. About 57 percent of women have an iron deficiency, which is often due to blood loss during a heavy period. Pregnant women also regularly deal with iron deficiencies due to an increased need for iron stores. It’s also common to have an iron deficiency from a poor or restrictive diet, as well as from medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease.
Since iron is absorbed into the body from the small intestine, gastric issues can contribute to an iron deficiency. Avoid iron deficiency by including iron-rich foods in your diet alongside a possible iron supplement.
Ten signs you may be iron deficient
- You’re feeling lightheaded, especially when sitting down or standing up: Since iron is part of what helps to carry oxygen from your lungs to your tissues, an iron deficiency could be causing a lower concentration of oxygen, and in turn causing lightheadedness and for you to be short of breath.
- You have abnormally dark under-eye circles: When your iron is low, the weakened hemoglobin can cause thinner skin in sensitive areas like your eyes to darken.
- You're feeling constantly fatigued: Since low iron can mean lower oxygen levels in the blood, your fatigue and exhaustion can creep up much faster than it’s supposed to.
- A persistent desire for ice or dirt: Iron deficiency can cause pica, which is a disorder that causes you to crave and eat things that aren’t necessarily food, like ice and dirt.
- Weak, brittle nails: One symptom of an iron deficiency is weakened nail beds and nails that bend, tear and crack much more than normal.
- Paler skin than normal: Since iron deficiencies cause lower levels of hemoglobin, which gives blood its red colour, you will often have paler skin without enough iron.
- You bruise very easily: It all links back to hemoglobin, which is why iron deficiencies can very often cause you to bruise more easily than you typically do.
- Your tongue is sore or inflamed: Iron assists in carrying oxygen in the blood from your lungs to your tissues — which includes your tongue. When you’re iron deficient, it’s common for your tongue to become dry, sore and swollen.
- Hair loss: Just like you want oxygen to be transported to your tongue, you also want it to be transported to places like your hair follicles. However, an iron deficiency and low iron stores can cause less oxygen to be sent to places like your hair follicles, often resulting in hair loss.
- You feel weak: One of the biggest culprits of iron deficiency is increased weakness levels since your oxygen levels aren’t as high as they should be.
How you can get your iron levels up
If you’re struggling with an iron deficiency, it’s first important to focus on upping the iron you take in and the iron that your body absorbs with the foods you eat. Look for iron-rich foods, like leafy greens and lean proteins, or eat fortified breakfast cereals and iron-rich grains, like quinoa.
Unlike other minerals, iron levels in the human body are controlled only by absorption. So looking for one that has been formulated to work well with our body’s absorption methods is key.* Due to its large surface area, liquid iron supplements are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Some iron supplements can cause side effects like constipation and an upset stomach, but products like IRONsmart help you get iron absorption without the nasty side effects. Your doctor will help you out by performing a complete blood count (CBC) and recommending the correct product for you, down to the milligrams.
You don’t want to go through life feeling weak, tired and achy all the time. When you begin to use an iron supplement like IRONsmart, you’ll raise your hemoglobin and ferritin levels quickly and increase your energy. A recent study showed that after 12 hours, the absorption of IRONsmart was much higher than other forms of iron. Try IRONsmart today, and say goodbye to the incessant weakness, fatigue and bruising.