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Effects of Anemia or  iron deficiency

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Iron is a mineral needed by our bodies. Iron is a part of all cells and does many things in our bodies. For example, iron (as part of the protein hemoglobin) carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies. Having too little hemoglobin is called anemia. Iron also helps our muscles store and use oxygen.

Iron is a part of many enzymes and is used in many cell functions. Enzymes help our bodies digest foods and also help with many other important reactions that occur within our bodies. When our bodies don't have enough iron, many parts of our bodies are affected.

Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body's tissues, giving your body energy.

As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron. Without enough iron, your body can't produce enough hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen. As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired, weak and pale.

In the United States, the largest nationwide survey, the National Nutrition and Health Examination Surveys (NHANES) found that approximately 16% of teenage girls aged 16-19 and 12% of women aged 20-49 are deficient in iron. These numbers are staggering in a country with an abundant food supply and an array of multivitamin and iron supplements.

If the cause of your iron deficiency anemia is lack of iron in your diet (for example, a strict vegetarian diet), you can usually correct it by increasing your irons stores through diet and iron supplementation.

What are the most common symptoms of low iron?

The most common symptoms associated with low iron (or an iron deficiency) are fatigue, paleness and irritability. Someone with early stages of iron deficiency may have no signs or symptoms.

Bifera helps in energy production by increasing iron levels though restoring the body’s hemoglobin levels in people with iron deficiency.

Over time iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Signs of iron deficiency anemia include:

  • a constant feeling of tiredness and weakness
  • decreased performance at work
  • feeling unusually cold
  • dizziness
  • lack of concentration

How do they test for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia?

Your doctor or healthcare provider will likely take blood samples to screen for iron deficiency.

Unfortunately, there is not a single test that can be used alone to diagnose iron deficiency. A combination of blood tests is commonly used to identify iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia.

If your doctor is concerned that you may have iron deficiency, he or she will probably order the following blood tests to reveal how much iron is in your body:

1) Hematocrit test – Shows the percentage of blood volume made up of red blood cells and hemoglobin
2) Hemoglobin test – Measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood

Your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels usually aren't decreased until you have iron deficiency anemia.

Another test your doctor might perform is the Ferritin test, which measures your iron stores. When your ferritin is low, you are very iron deficient. (Ferritinis the protein that helps store iron in the body.)

What are the most common symptoms of low iron?

Iron and iron deficiency facts*

Iron deficiency facts medical author:

  • Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States.

  • Iron deficiency is due either to increased need for iron by the body or a decreased absorption or amount of iron taken in.

  • Signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, decreased work and school performance, slow cognitive and social development during childhood, difficulty maintaining body temperature, decreased immune function, and glossitis (an inflamed tongue).

  • Blood tests establish the diagnosis of iron deficiency.

  • Dietary changes or iron supplements are possible treatments for iron deficiency.

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What is iron deficiency and why is it a concern?

Iron deficiency is a condition resulting from too little iron in the body. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States.

The terms anemia, iron deficiency, and iron deficiency anemia often are used interchangeably but equivalent. Iron deficiency ranges from depleted iron stores without functional or health impairment to iron deficiency with anemia, which affects the functioning of several organ systems.

Iron deficiency is a concern because it can:

  • Iron deficiency can delay normal infant motor function (normal activity and movement) or mental function (normal thinking and processing skills)

  • Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy can increase risk for small or early (preterm) babies.Small or early babies are more likely to have health problems or die in the first year of life than infants who are born full term and are not small.

  • Iron deficiency can cause fatigue that impairs the ability to do physical work in adults. Iron deficiency may also affect memory or other mental function in teens.

What causes iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency has many causes.  These causes fall into two main categories:

  1. Increased iron needs

Many common conditions can cause people to need additional iron:

  • Because of their rapid growth, infants and toddlers need more iron than older children. Sometimes it can be hard for them to get enough iron from their normal diet.

  • Women who are pregnant have higher iron needs. To get enough, most women must take an iron supplement as recommended by their healthcare provider.

  • When people lose blood, they also lose iron. They need extra iron to replace what they have lost. Increased blood loss can occur with heavy menstrual periods, frequent blood donation, as well as with some stomach and intestinal conditions (food sensitivity, hookworms.)
  1. Decreased iron intake or absorption (not enough iron taken into the body)

The amount of iron absorbed from the diet depends on many factors:

  • Iron from meat, poultry, and fish (i.e., heme iron) is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than iron from plants (i.e., non-heme iron).

  • The amount of iron absorbed from plant foods (non-heme iron) depends on the other types of foods eaten at the same meal.

  • Foods containing heme iron (meat, poultry, and fish) enhance iron absorption from foods that contain non-heme iron (e.g., fortified cereals, some beans, and spinach).

  • Foods containing vitamin C (see Dietary Sources of vitamin C) also enhance non-heme iron absorption when eaten at the same meal.

  • Substances (such as polyphenols, phytates, or calcium) that are part of some foods or drinks such as tea, coffee, whole grains, legumes and milk or dairy products can decrease the amount of non-heme iron absorbed at a meal. Calcium can also decrease the amount heme-iron absorbed at a meal. However, for healthy individuals who consume a varied diet that conforms to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the amount of iron inhibition from these substances is usually not of concern.

  • Vegetarian diets are low in heme iron, but careful meal planning can help increase the amount of iron absorbed.

  • Some other factors (such as taking antacids beyond the recommended dose or medicine used to treat peptic ulcer disease and acid reflux) can reduce the amount of acid in the stomach and the iron absorbed and cause iron deficiency.
Increased Iron Needs Decreased Iron Intake and Absorption
  • Rapid growth
  • Pregnancy
  • Blood loss
    • Heavy menstrual periods
    • Frequent blood donation
    • Some stomach and intestinal conditions (food sensitivity, hookworms)
  • Lack of heme iron sources in the diet (e.g., vegetarian diets)
  • Low absorption
    • Taking antacids beyond the recommended dose or medicine used to treat peptic ulcer disease and acid reflux can reduce the amount of iron absorbed in the stomach.

How is iron deficiency detected?

Your doctor or healthcare provider will do blood tests to screen for iron deficiency. No single test is used to diagnose iron deficiency. The most common tests for screening are

  • Hemoglobin test (a test that measures hemoglobin which is a protein in the blood that carries oxygen)

  • Hematocrit test (the percentage of red blood cells in your blood by volume)

These tests show how much iron is in your body. Hemoglobin and hematocrit levels usually aren't decreased until the later stages of iron deficiency, i.e., anemia.

Sometimes other blood tests are used to confirm that anemia is due to iron deficiency. These might include

  • Complete blood count (to look at the number and volume of the red blood cells)

  • Serum ferritin (a measure of a stored form of iron)

  • Serum iron (a measure of the iron in your blood)

  • Transferrin saturation (a measure of the transported form of iron)

  • Transferrin receptor (a measure of increased red blood cell production)


How is iron deficiency treated?

  • If you are found to have an iron deficiency, it is important to see your healthcare provider for treatment. Your treatment will depend on factors such as your age, health, and cause of iron deficiency.

  • If your doctor or health care provider thinks that you have iron deficiency she or he may prescribe iron supplements for you to take and then ask that you return after a period to have your hemoglobin or hematocrit tested.

  • If your healthcare provider determines that the iron deficiency is due to a diet low in iron, you might be told to eat more iron-rich foods. Your health care provider may also prescribe an iron supplement for you.

Again, it is important to be diagnosed by your healthcare provider because iron deficiency can have causes that aren't related to your diet. Your healthcare provider's recommendations will be specific to your needs.

Dietary Sources of Iron

Food Sources of Iron ranked by milligrams of iron per standard amount; also calories in the standard amount. (All amounts listed provide 10% or more of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for teenage and adult females, which is 18 mg/day.)

Food, Standard Amount Iron (mg) Calories
Clams, canned, drained oz 23.8 126
Fortified dry cereals (various), about 1 oz 1.8 to 21.1 54 to 127
Cooked oysters, cooked, 3 oz 10.2 116
Organ meats (liver, giblets), cooked, 3 oz 5.2 to 9.9 134 to 235
*Fortified instant cooked cereals (various), 1 packet 4.9 to 8.1 Varies
*Soybeans, mature, cooked, ½ cup 4.4 149
*Pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, 1 oz 4.2 148
*White beans, canned, ½ cup 3.9 153
*Blackstrap molasses, 1 Tbsp 3.5 47
*Lentils, cooked, ½ cup 3.3 115
*Spinach, cooked from fresh, ½ cup 3.2 21
Beef, chuck, blade roast, cooked, 3 oz 3.1 215
Beef, bottom round, cooked, 3 oz 2.8 182
*Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup 2.6 112
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 3 oz 2.5 177
Beef, rib, cooked, 3 oz 2.4 195
*Chickpeas, cooked, ½ cup 2.4 134
Duck, meat only, roasted, 3 oz 2.3 171
Lamb, shoulder, cooked, 3 oz 2.3 237
*Prune juice, ¾ cup 2.3 136
Shrimp, canned, 3 oz 2.3 102
*Cowpeas, cooked, ½ cup 2.2 100
Ground beef, 15% fat, cooked, 3 oz 2.2 212
*Tomato puree, ½ cup 2.2 48
*Lima beans, cooked, ½ cup 2.2 108
*Soybeans, green, cooked, ½ cup 2.2 127
*Navy beans, cooked, ½ cup 2.1 127
*Refried beans, ½ cup 2.1 118
Beef, top sirloin, cooked, 3 oz 2.0 156
*Tomato paste, ¼ cup 2.0 54

Food Sources of iron are ranked by milligrams of iron per standard amount; also calories in the standard amount. (All amounts listed provide 10% or more of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for teenage and adult females, which is 18 mg/day.)

Read More information about Iron deficiency

( References:, )

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