Do you have an iron deficiency?

Are you feeling unusually tired? Do you feel as though you’re almost always struck down with a cold or other illness? You may be iron deficient.

Iron deficiency is a common health problem. Sufferers experience symptoms such as fatigue, paleness, dizziness, breathlessness, and decreased immunity.

Common causes of iron deficiency in adults include inadequate dietary intake, chronic blood loss, times of increased need such as pregnancy, and vigorous exercise. For some people, an inability to absorb iron may be the cause.

Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia includes adding iron-rich foods to the diet and may also mean taking iron supplements for up to 12 months under medical supervision. It is important to see your doctor if you suspect you are iron deficient to avoid misdiagnosis, as iron can become toxic if consumed in excess amounts.

Here are a few ways to increase your dietary iron and iron absorption:

  • Meat, poultry and fish are good sources of dietary iron.
  • Increase the amounts of dark green leafy vegetables e.g. broccoli and spinach, prunes, dried apricots, raisins, nuts, seeds, dried beans and peas, and iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas.
  • Vitamin C increases iron absorption, so eat more brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.
  • Cut back on the amount of tea and coffee you drink, especially around mealtimes, since the tannins in tea and coffee bind to the iron and interfere with absorption.
Roma Clayton-Tweedie