An iron deficiency is simply a form of anemia. Anemia is a blood volume low in red blood cells: those cells that transport oxygen throughout the body. Because red blood cells produce iron, Iron deficiency anemia is developed from the low volume of red blood cells. The red blood cells cannot produce the haemoglobin needed to carry oxygen. There are clear signs that you are suffering from anemia.
The signs of anemia may include:
- Feeling short of breath
- Experiencing a constant feeling of tiredness, no matter how much you rest.
- Cold feet and hands
- Brittle nails
- Overwhelming pica, which is a desire to eat food lacking in nutrition like dirt or ice
- Pale skin
- Soreness or swelling of the tongue
- Weakness and a lack of appetite
- Tingling feeling in the legs
Foods that decrease and increase the body’s ability to absorb iron include:
1. High tannin foods
Tannins block cells from receiving and processing iron. Foods that deplete the body of iron include these foods, which are high in tannins:
- Cow’s milk
2. Heme and nonheme sources
Plant foods rich in iron are considered producers of nonheme iron. Plants that are good sources of iron are green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lentils, peas and beans. Heme iron is found in beef, chicken, chicken liver, turkey, ham, sardines canned in oil, mussels, clams and oysters. Other heme iron sources lie in other fish like halibut, tuna, perch and salmon. The body is capable of over-absorbing heme iron, unlike nonheme iron, because it is absorbed quickly by the body. That’s why eating meat is associated with heart disease.
3. Sources of mineral iron
Always check the nutrition facts on the label. Generally, on the front of the package, it will say if the product is enriched or fortified with iron. Corn products such as cornflakes, grits, corn tortillas and refined cornmeal will have several milligrams of iron. A cup of enriched long-grain rice has two milligrams of iron. Pasta made from refined flour enriched with iron will have two milligrams of iron, which is equal to 11 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). One cup of ready-to-eat cereal can be fortified with iron in the equivalent of 18 milligrams of iron.
4. Foods that increase iron absorption
Foods high in vitamin C can enhance the body’s ability to absorb iron. These foods are grapefruit, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, tangerines, melons, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and leafy greens.
5. Medical treatments for iron deficiencies
Injectafer is a medically prescribed injection used to cure an iron deficiency. Injectafer must be administered under medical supervision in an approved facility because of the side effects that may occur. It is injected through a vein through an IV. The possible side effects are high blood pressure, vomiting, dizziness, low phosphorus in the blood, headache, and/or pain or bruising at the site of the injection. It must be administered twice, seven days apart. Its effects can last up to one year.