Iron deficiency, also known as anemia, is the most common widespread nutrient deficiency in the world, and is much more common in women. Last year, 15.3 % of women in Australia, aged between 18-30, were recorded as being anemic. In America in 2008, over 30% of the population was recorded as being iron deficient, and unfortunately, research suggests that this number is on the rise!
Some of the main roles of iron include:
Many symptoms of iron deficiency can be overlooked initially. However, once anemia has developed, symptoms can become more severe.
Symptoms can include:
Women are more prone to iron deficiency due to several physical changes (sometimes ongoing) that occur in our lives. These changes either increase the need for iron due to blood loss (due to menstruation) or other physical changes that require more iron.
These changes include:
Other ways in which you can become depleted in your iron levels include:
So how can you make sure that you keep your iron levels up naturally? By eating a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in natural sources of iron.
Contrary to what many people believe, red meat is not the only source of iron. There are many foods you can enjoy, whilst making sure you are getting that much-needed iron boost!
Some iron-rich foods include:
Vitamin C is essential for iron absorption. To ensure you are able to absorb the iron you are eating, you also need to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin C in your diet. Here is a list of foods high in Vitamin C.
Iron deficiency is quite common in women, and the symptoms can often go unnoticed until it becomes more serious.
The good news is that having your iron levels checked is a relatively quick and painless procedure. All it requires is a simple blood test, that you can organize through your GP.
If the blood tests show that you are anemic, then restoring your iron levels is quite simple. You may just need to reassess your diet, take some iron (and/or Vitamin C) supplements, or for those of you that struggle absorbing iron, you may require an iron injection.
So don’t put it off. If you are concerned that you might be anemic, or you would like to reassure yourself that your levels are fine, talk to your GP and ask about having your iron levels checked.