What Are Some Key Causes of Iron Deficiency? | When to See a Doctor

Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency disease worldwide. Find out when you are at an increased risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia and which symptoms indicate the anemia!

Iron is vital because, according to experts, our body needs approx. 1 mg of the trace element to form new blood. However, since the body can only absorb approx. 10 to 15 percent of iron from food, adolescents and adults should consume between 10 and 15 mg of iron daily, children approx. 8 to 10 mg and pregnant and breastfeeding women 20 to 30 mg.

Iron is a component of hemoglobin, the red blood pigment, in our body. The red blood cells have the task of binding oxygen and carbon dioxide and transporting them to the lungs. If there is an iron deficiency, the hemoglobin level in the body is low. As a result, not enough blood is produced, which means that the oxygen transport can no longer be carried out optimally. A lack of blood can be the cause of various complaints.

Forms of iron deficiency:

  1. Latent deficiency: the iron stores are emptying. But there is still enough iron in the blood to make enough blood.
  2. Absolute deficiency: the iron stores are empty. The first symptoms of iron deficiency appear.
  3. Functional deficiency: The iron reserves are full, but the organism cannot fall back on them. Anemia develops.

Causes and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

In the best case scenario, we cover our iron requirements with food. There is an increased need for women, especially during pregnancy and with heavy periods. Children in the growth phase and puberty are also often prone to an iron deficiency. In the case of chronic inflammation and chronic bleeding, blood formation disorders can also occur. People who do a lot of sport are also more likely to suffer from iron deficiency, as the body loses iron through kidneys and sweat. Although iron is found in plant-based foods, vegans and vegetarians are often affected by iron deficiency. This is because the body is less able to absorb iron from plant foods than iron from animal foods. By supplying vitamin C, the body can utilize vegetable iron better. Here z. B. a glass of orange juice before meals.

Risk groups

  • Women (with normal to heavy menstruation)
  • Pregnant women
  • Children, adolescents, and babies
  • Elderly people
  • Athlete
  • Blood donor
  • Vegetarians and vegans

Symptoms of iron deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Poorer performance
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Tingling in hands and legs
  • Weak immune system
  • Brittle nails
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nervousness and inner restlessness
  • Feeling cold
  • Difficulties swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Angular rhinitis

Treat and prevent iron deficiency

You can have your family doctor determine your iron level in a blood count. Make sure that the following values ​​are determined:

  • Hemoglobin (red blood pigment): The optimal values ​​are between 12 and 16 g / dl for women and between 14 and 16 g / dl for men.
  • Ferritin (value for the filling level of the iron stores): For women, a normal value between 20 and 200 µg / dl applies, for men, the value between 30 and 300 µg / dl applies.

Treat and prevent iron deficiency

In order to ensure the optimal supply of iron, you should pay attention to a balanced diet. Foods such as black pudding, veal and beef, and pork liver are particularly rich in iron. But poultry and fish also provide the body with iron. Basically, the body can absorb iron from animal products better than plant-based iron. In order to improve the absorption of the trace element, you should always take vitamin C in the form of fruits and vegetables.

When taking it, make sure that you avoid phytic acid and polyphenols as much as possible because they inhibit the absorption of iron in the body. Please also note that although vegetable sources of iron are healthy, their iron content is lower than that of animal products, and the plant substances they contain can inhibit absorption. However, if the iron deficiency is severe, the doctor may prescribe an iron supplement.

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