7 signs and symptoms of iron deficiency

Iron is essential for the functioning of your body, but if you’re deficient in this nutrient, you could be in trouble.

According to the Global Nutrition Report, women in India are increasingly suffering from iron deficiency. Iron deficiency, more commonly known as anemia, occurs when the body has a low red blood cell count.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. But what’s important to remember is that iron is an essential micronutrient, and the body needs it to carry out various critical functions. These include making hemoglobin in red blood cells, which transport oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. They also help in growth and development.

iron deficiency
Extreme fatigue can be a sign that you have iron deficiency. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dr Rakesh Ranjan, Chief Operating Officer, Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences, Greater Noida, says, “It is a common occurrence, especially among the female population. It is described as a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells that are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues.”

In fact, not just women, but several patients who have recovered or are recovering from Covid-19 have of fatigue, breathlessness, and cognitive dysfunction, and these symptoms are associated with iron deficiency. Hence, you should know the symptoms.

Iron deficiency can be pretty mild and go unnoticed. But in severe cases, the symptoms may intensify and become more prominent.

Here, we list out symptoms that you need to watch out for:
1. Fatigue

Do you feel fatigued for no reason? Are you unable to carry out your daily chores with ease? If yes, beware! Dr Ranjan says if you’re experiencing fatigue for no reason, it can be anaemia. Low levels of iron in the body can make you feel tired.

iron deficiency
Find out the reason for your fatigue and work on it ASAP! Image courtesy: Unsplash
2. Weakness

This is one of the most common symptoms of low iron levels in the body. You will be unable to focus on your work as well.

3. Breathlessness

Due to lack of iron and later haemoglobin in the body, you may experience breathlessness frequently.

Also, read: An iron deficiency could be behind your deteriorating mental health: An expert explains

4. Pale skin

Dr Ranjan says, “Being deficient in iron can lead to changes in the skin. You will look pale.” This is a common symptom of iron deficiency. Likewise, brittle nails also indicate insufficient iron levels.

5. Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or breathing issues

Yes, these symptoms may also overlap with other ailments. But, these signs are commonly seen during iron deficiency.

iron deficiency
Chest pain and heart attack are different. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
6. Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness

Do you constantly feel dizzy? Is that notorious headache robbing your peace of mind? If yes, here’s what Dr Ranjan suggests, “It is the right time to check the iron levels in the body. You may be deficient in iron.”

Also, read: Feeling the monsoon blues? These 6 iron-rich foods can boost your energy

7. Cold hands and feet

Are your hands and feet cold even during the hot and humid season? Consult a doctor immediately, as it may be a symptom of iron deficiency.

8. Poor appetite

Don’t feel like eating anything? Is there a loss of appetite? You need to be careful. Although poor appetite is common, especially among infants and children, it can also indicate iron deficiency, says Dr Ranjan.

iron deficiency
Eating less will harm your health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It is vital to include iron-rich foods, as part of your daily meals.

Here are five top iron-rich foods that will boost the iron content in your body
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as parsley, spinach, and broccoli
  • Include legumes (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and peas) in your diet
  • Dark chocolates work as the best solution to soothe cravings, and to uplift your iron levels
  • Seeds such as flax, pumpkin, and chia are power-packed with iron, zinc, and folate
  • Nuts and dry fruits like peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and cashews

On noticing the symptoms of iron deficiency, just seek prompt treatment and include these foods in your diet. Insufficient iron levels can cause lung and heart complications as well, says Dr Ranjan.

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