Your body needs the mineral iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen through your blood vessels. If your body doesn’t have enough haemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen to be able to work effectively and this can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. A blood test will of course confirm if your iron levels are low, but there are also a number of tell-tale signs you can look out for.
Low energy and fatigue
Feeling very tired is usually the first symptom of iron deficiency. Your body isn’t producing enough haemoglobin, your tissues and muscles are deprived of oxygen, and consequently the energy they need to work properly.
Heavy periods, even regular, monthly periods, can cause iron levels to become too low, especially if you’re not getting enough iron from food.
Shortness of breath
Again, low haemoglobin and low oxygen levels make physical tasks that much harder. Your breathing rate will increase as your body tries to get more oxygen to where it’s needed – even simple tasks like walking or climbing the stairs can leave you short of breath.
Your heart also has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around your body, which can cause heart palpitations or a noticeable heartbeat, an irregular heartbeat or the feeling your heart is beating too fast. You should always voice any heart concerns to your doctor or healthcare provider.
Skin that’s paler than usual is also a common symptom of iron deficiency. The haemoglobin in red blood cells gives blood its red colour, and low levels of haemoglobin caused by iron deficiency make blood less red. Another tell-tale sign is if the inside of your lower eyelid, ordinarily bright red, is paler than usual.
Hair loss and dry skin
Hair loss, brittle nails and dry skin have also been linked to iron deficiency. Every cell in the body needs oxygen and this is true of the cells responsible for skin and hair health. When hair and skin are deprived of oxygen, they can become dry and weak, and in severe cases of anaemia, cause hair to fall out.
Food sources of iron
Food first! Good food sources of iron include lean red meat, liver and shellfish. Vegetarian iron is generally not as easy to absorb as animal-derived iron, but it is available in leafy vegetables like spinach, water cress and kale, beans, Tofu, figs and lentils.
There are also certain foods you’ll want to avoid or reduce your consumption of. These include tea, coffee, milk and dairy produce, and foods with high levels of phytic acid, such as wholegrain cereals, which can inhibit the absorption of iron.
If you feel you can’t get your iron levels up through diet alone, an iron supplement can of course help. BetterYou’s Iron 10 Daily Oral Spray delivers 10mg of iron per 4 sprays. Scientifically formulated to deliver iron directly into the bloodstream via the inner cheek, these tiny droplets absorb quickly, providing fast, effective nutrient uptake, and bypass the gut. Some iron supplements in the form of tablets, capsules and liquids are notoriously known to cause digestive discomfort and constipation. Most are quite challenging on the tastebuds too. BetterYou’s Iron 10 is free from negative side effects, is not known to cause constipation, sickness, stomach pains, bloating or heart burn, and with its natural pomegranate flavour, tastes great too. A 5mg spray is also available .