April 16th 2014
What is Iron Deficiency?
Iron deficiency, also known as iron anemia, is the condition in which the body lacks iron and requires more of the nutrient. When the blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body's tissues which is necessary to preform all bodily functions. (Encyclopedia Britannica 2014)
Here is a quick video to get us started!
Why does it occur?
Iron is a mineral the body needs for many purposes. Iron anemia occurs when the body is short of iron, isn't absorbing iron enriched foods or isn't receiving enough iron enriched foods.
Who does it usually affect?
Kids and teens are prone to iron anemia as they do not care as much about what nutrients they are getting in and also, they tend to consume a lot of milk which is low in iron and often replaces other iron food sources. (dietnutritionadvise 2013).
Girls and women are also at higher risk of iron anemia as they are constantly loosing blood due to menstrual cycles.
Pregnant women need high iron levels as they are not just feeding for themselves but for their baby as well and need to take into account that they need extra high nutrient levels.
Vegetarians are also at high risk of iron anemia as many iron enriched foods are taken out of their diet.
Iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Frequent infections
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Fast heartbeat
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
- An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)
(Encyclopedia Britannica 2014)
The natural way to prevent iron anemia would be to eat healthy meals full of iron. Foods such as dark leafy green vegetables are very high in iron. In specific, broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, and spinach are all good examples of iron enriched sources. Also, increasing the intake of vitamin C enriched foods can help increase the body's absorption of iron by 85%. In general, everyone should be getting a daily value of 18 milligrams of iron each day. (healthaliciousness 2014)
Vegetarians need to remember to get their daily value of iron from other sources as they are limited as to what iron enriched foods they can eat.
How much you should be getting:
Those who unfortunately are diagnosed with iron anemia may be prescribed iron supplement pills to help bring their iron levels up higher.
Also, they are encouraged to introduce new foods in their diets to increase the amount of iron they are getting.
Injections are also available to boost the process of absorption and to help those suffering from extremely dangerous levels of low iron.
Where and why it exists?
Iron anemia is common all around the world and for different reasons. In North America, it is common for people to be iron anemic as they consume more junk food and neglect the importance of eating iron enriched foods. In Asia for example, many of the cultures that originate from there are cultures that practice vegetarianism. Iron anemia is very common for vegetarians as mentioned above.
Iron anemia can have very dangerous effects on the body but if treated on time and/or prevented in the first place, it does not have to be too difficult to maintain healthy iron levels. So keep on eating those vegetables, soy products and good meats!
Britannica School. (n.d.). Britannica School. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from http://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/42800 http://www.medicinenet.com/iron_and_iron_deficiency/page3.htm
Diet & Nutrition Advisor. (n.d.). Diet & Nutrition Advisor. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from http://dietnutritionadvise.tumblr.com/
Dietitians of Canada - Food Sources of Iron. (n.d.). Dietitians of Canada - Food Sources of Iron. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Iron.aspx
Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron. (n.d.). Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/fruits-and-vegetables-high-in-iron.php