Iron deficiency: causes and symptoms

Woman suffers from iron deficiency

Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiency symptoms worldwide, about 30 percent, or two billion people, are affected. The risk groups include women in particular. But even the complete renunciation of meat and fish products endangers the supply of the trace element.
Iron is an essential trace element that the body can not produce itself. It is especially important for the formation of the red blood pigment hemoglobin and thus the oxygen transport, but also part of the power plants in the cells and enzymes. Since the organism loses one to two mg of iron per day on average, it must be fed daily with food.

Causes of iron deficiency

The food iron covers at best the normal need. If this is increased, for example, during pregnancy or heavy menstruation, it comes to an iron deficiency. In addition, a mismatch between iron demand and iron supply may have other causes.

  • Increased need : During pregnancy and lactation, the increased need for iron in many cases can not be compensated by the diet. In this case it is necessary to take iron tablets. Even children in the growth phase and puberty need more iron.
  • Low iron intake : People who do not eat animal food often have a low iron level. While there is enough iron in plant foods, it is in a form that the body can not use properly.
  • Iron loss : Heavy period bleeding, prolonged bleeding from ulcers or chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract or bleeding hemorrhoids lead to iron loss. At high exercise load, the loss of minerals and trace elements via the kidneys and sweat increases.

Symptoms of iron deficiency

The body can compensate for iron deficiency over a period of time, however, symptoms such as brittle hair and nails, dry skin, cracked corners of the mouth, mucosal changes in the mouth and esophagus, and tongue burns appear at this stage.

As the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells becomes less and less, the oxygen supply of the cells also deteriorates. So the body has too little iron for a long time; it comes to anemia with the typical symptoms: ongoing fatigue, decreased performance and lack of concentration, paleness, dizziness and headache, tingling in the hands and legs. The organism generally becomes more susceptible to disease.

5 facts about iron (infographic)

5 facts about iron - © istockphoto, baibaz

How to get enough iron - 5 tips!

  • 3 to 4 times a week a portion of lean meat.
  • Whole grains and legumes such as lentils or white beans provide iron and other valuable minerals.
  • Combine the meals with vitamin C-rich vegetables such as peppers, brussels sprouts, sauerkraut or potatoes or enjoy a glass of orange juice to eat.
  • For iron-rich meals, you should abstain from coffee, tea and milk. Keep at least half an hour away!
  • In case of imminent iron deficiency take herbal blood juice in addition!
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