Iron Deficiency Anemia: Signs and Symptoms

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY ANEMIA

✅Shortness of breath with exercise

✅Fatigue and weakness

✅Pale face, nail beds and creases in your palms

✅Difficulty concentrating

✅Brain fog

✅Delayed development in children

✅Restless leg syndrome

✅Low blood pressure

✅Feeling cold all the time

✅Palpitations

✅Hair loss

✅Heavy periods (which ironically can both be caused by iron deficiency and result it)

✅Poor blood sugar control

✅Muscle spasms

HOW TO TEST FOR IRON DEFICIENCY

Blood work! Get your doctor to run a complete blood count (CBC) and look at your ferritin levels (marker of iron stores AND also an acute phase reactant so it can be falsely elevated in states of elevated systemic inflammation). Depending on these results your doctor may also want to run an iron panel.

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF IRON DEFICIENCY

✅Menorrhagia – Very heavy period flow – more output than input of iron.

✅Vegan diet without supplementation – I’ve seen its very difficult for women of reproductive age on a vegan diet to maintain iron levels without supplementing after awhile.

✅Atrophic Gastritis – An autoimmune gut condition that will lower iron levels because the stomach can’t secrete acid properly.

✅Inflamed gut – The duodenum won’t be able to absorb it properly.

✅Celiac and gluten sensitivity – Many people who’s iron won’t budge will all of a sudden shoot up after removing a food sensitivity – most commonly gluten.

✅Hypothyroidism – Thyroid hormones stimulate directly or indirectly growth of erythroid colonies through erythropoietin. Anemia is often the first sign of hypothyroidism.

✅Gastric ulcers

✅Colon cancer or polyps

IRON ABSORPTION INFLUENCES

Substances that enhance iron absorption:

✅Vitamin C

✅Betaine HCl

Substances that interfere with iron absorption:

✅Calcium

✅Coffee, tea and wine (tannins)

✅Zinc

✅Fiber

✅Phytic acid (anti-nutrients found commonly in nuts and seeds).

IRON METABOLISM

Iron metabolism is unusual in that it is controlled by absorption rather than excretion. Iron is only lost through blood loss or loss of cells as they slough. Men and nonmenstruating women lose about 1 mg of iron per day. Menstruating women lose from 0.6 to 2.5 percent more per day. An average 132-lb (60-kg) woman might lose an extra 10 mg of iron per menstruation cycle, but the loss could be more than 42 mg per cycle depending on how heavily she menstruates (1).

References:

  1. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0301/p671.html

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