Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. It’s also the leading cause of anemia in this country. So, how do you know if you’re at risk and how can you prevent it?
Your body pumps iron through your bloodstream continuously each and every day. It’s required to make hemoglobin, which is a part of red blood cells that shuttles oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout your body. It carries oxygen from your lungs, through your bloodstream and to all the tissues in your body, including your muscles, skin and brain. It then carries carbon dioxide and delivers it back to the lungs where you exhale it.
If the body doesn't absorb its needed amount of iron, it becomes deficient. Symptoms may not necessarily appear until iron deficiency has progressed to iron deficiency anemia. This is a state at which the body's iron stores are so low that it doesn’t produce enough normal red blood cells to carry oxygen efficiently.
Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, general feeling of weakness, and pale skin.
Food Sources of Iron
We absorb two to three times more iron from animal sources than from plant sources. When consuming plant sources of iron, have it along with a source of vitamin C in order to enhance absorption rate. Some of the best animal sources of iron are lean beef, turkey, chicken, pork, and fish. Some of the best plant-based sources of iron include beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, enriched rice, whole grain and enriched breads
Are You at Risk?
There are a few groups of people who are at higher risk for developing iron deficiency.
No one wants to feel tired, sluggish, fatigued, or dizzy. And no one wants to decrease the amount of oxygen that’s delivered to their body’s cells and tissues. So the takeaway here is to prevent this from happening in the first place.
Tips for Prevention:
Iron is necessary for keeping your energy levels up and your risk of anemia low. If you’re at risk for iron deficiency or if you feel like you’re having symptoms of anemia, see a health care provider and start adding more iron-rich foods to your balanced diet.