Iron is an essential nutrient required by every cell in your body. It promotes the formation of red blood cells, strengthens your immune system and protects your overall health. It’s vital to your well-being, so it’s important to recognize the signs of a possible iron deficiency – which happens to be the most common nutritional disorder in the world. Here are six signs that might surprise you:
This symptom can be tough to detect because your life is likely hectic and stressful. Less iron means less oxygen reaches your tissues, so you become deprived of energy. If you’re weak, irritable or unable to focus on top of any “normal” fatigue, low iron might be the culprit.
An untreated iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia. This causes your heart to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen in your blood when you’re anemic. The result? You might experience a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Be sure to check in with your doctor if this occurs.
Craving non-food substances
It sounds bizarre, but an iron deficiency sometimes causes people to develop cravings for (and eat!) non-food items such as dirt, chalk, paper or clay. This condition, known as Pica, can become harmful if you give into these cravings and ingest non-food substances.
loss Iron deficiency sometimes triggers your body into survival mode. Your body will distribute oxygen to support your most vital functions, and keeping your hair attached doesn’t top that list. Most of us lose about 100 strands of hair a day, so a more drastic daily hair loss could be a sign of low iron.
If your iron levels are low, you might experience symptoms similar to what you feel when you’re depressed: apathy, fatigue, irritability and brain fog.
When you’re low in iron, you’re low on oxygen. A lack of oxygen can cause muscles to swell… including (wait for it) your tongue! If yours is sore, swollen or marred with tiny cracks, you might need to up your iron intake.
Be your own health hero by looking out for these signs and talking to your doctor if you suspect you need more iron in your life. Remember to make healthy living a part of every day! The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste. – Dr. Nandi
My prescriptions for safely upping your iron:
- Eat iron-rich foods. Enjoy delicious flavor and good nutrition with iron-rich foods such as chickpeas, mushrooms and cumin.
- Get cooking. Cooking with cast iron pots and pans can increase the iron content of foods, especially foods with organic acids.
- Add Vitamin C. Some foods boost iron absorption when eaten along with iron-rich foods. Vitamin C is a great example, so try drinking a glass of orange juice with your lunch.