Do you wonder why you’re feeling tired all of the time? Do you get dizzy and light-headed sometimes? Are you vegetarian or vegan?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is possible your iron could be low!
Iron is vitally important as it carries the oxygen in your blood, and every cell in your body needs oxygen to make energy. Read on for more symptoms of low iron, why it’s so common, and how it can be addressed!
Common Signs of Iron Deficiency:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Easy bruising
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness, dizziness
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Pounding in the ears
- Headaches that start with exercise
- Hair Loss
- Brittle Nails
Why is iron deficiency so common in women?
When the body loses iron, it needs to be replaced through extra intake. Blood loss equals iron loss, and because most women menstruate each month, these women need more iron in their diets. On top of that, iron is a hard nutrient to absorb.
Both vegetarianism and veganism are rising in popularity, and although these diets are great for many reasons, they can be a major contributing factor to iron deficiency.
Absorption of iron from plant sources involves a completely different process than iron absorption from animal sources and is much less efficient. Most vegetarian iron sources contain substances called tannins that bind the iron and make them harder to absorb.
How do you know if your iron deficient?
A simple blood test can determine your iron status. Your naturopathic doctor can run tests that will give you information on your iron levels, red and white blood cell count, and the amount of B12 you have in your system. Low B12 presents similarly to low iron so it’s important to determine what is causing your symptoms in order to create a treatment plan.
Always test your levels before you begin supplementation, as having too much iron can be equally detrimental to your health.
What can be done?
Iron stores can be increased by eating more iron-rich foods, and/or taking an iron supplement. It is important to know which foods are high in iron (beans, lentils, leafy greens, and cashews) and how to combine them with foods high in vitamin C (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower) for better absorption.
The proper dosage to take depends on how deficient you are.
Some iron supplements are hard on the digestive tract and have side-effects like nausea and constipation. It is also important to retest after a 3-month period to see if your iron levels are rising. Though it may take some time, you can work with your naturopathic doctor to find the right dosage and supplement for you!
— Dr. Nicola Bennett, ND
To book an appointment with Dr. Bennett visit our website at theiv.ca or give us a call at 604-974-8999
Disclaimer – Information can be empowering, but we all have unique health profiles and needs. Health-related information contained in this post is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor. The advice is intended to offer only a general basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider.