Wednesday, February 19, 2014

8 Signs You’re Iron Deficient

Are you iron deficient? Fatigue is one of the symptoms.
Are you iron deficient? Fatigue is one of the symptoms.
Image: Shutterstock
Did you know that about 9% of women are iron deficient? I’ve certainly found myself in this group of women at times—especially before I started cooking my own food. It’s easy to miss out on vital nutrients and not know it, even when the signs are staring you in the face.

Until someone suggested that I might be iron deficient, I just dismissed my extra feelings of fatigue to needing to get more sleep. My cold hands? It’s just the way they are, I’d say.

So, are you part of that 9%? Check in with your body to make sure you aren’t experiencing these symptoms:

Exhaustion—without iron, your body has a hard time making hemoglobin in your red blood cells, which is responsible for carrying oxygen. Lack of hemoglobin makes your red blood cells become unhealthy and oxygen deprived. Translation: you get really tired.

Breathlessness—without enough oxygen in the blood cells, your body gets tired faster and suddenly you’re gasping for air just trying to walk up a hill. Regular workouts become harder than normal, too.

Extra Pale Skin—that is, more pale than normal. I have very fair skin, but an iron deficiency and unhealthy red blood cells makes it even paler. Instead of looking vibrant and alive, I look washed out and ill.

Loss of Focus—neurotransmitter synthesis goes down, focus goes down. Bye-bye, productivity.

Apathy—caused by the same slow-down of neurotransmitter synthesis, it can be hard to feel excited about anything when you’re iron deficient.

So, So Sore Muscles—since our bodies need iron to properly help muscles recover after a workout, if you’re iron deficient you might notice that you are more sore than normal—and for longer.

Broken Nails—especially brittle fingernails and toenails, or ones with small depressions in them, can be signs of iron deficiency as well.

Sick Again—if you keep getting respiratory illnesses, the problem could be a lack of iron.

As always, take this list with a grain of salt. Each person’s situation is unique. If you’re only getting five hours of sleep per night, you really might just need some extra rest. If, however, you’re getting 8-9 hours of sleep and still waking up exhausted, it might be a good idea to check in with your doctor to see if you need more iron in your diet.