The Consequences of Iron Deficiency

Do you get enough iron in your diet? Discover the consequences of not getting enough and learn how important iron is for your health!

The most important sign of iron deficiency is anemia. However, this problem has more consequences that are worth knowing.

If you think you may be consuming less of this nutrient ,we recommend paying attention to the following symptoms.

Iron deficiency is a global problem

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Millions of people suffer from this nutrient deficiency in both developed and undeveloped countries due to inefficient consumption.

No one should ignore iron deficiency, because it has harmful consequences for our health.

Among its many functions, iron allows hemoglobin to function correctly and provide oxygen to all cells.

It’s essential for health. Furthermore, since iron is found in small quantities in our body, it’s necessary to obtain it through food and, above all, through a balanced and varied diet.

There are two types of iron:

  • The first is haem iron, found in animal meats. It’s easily absorbed.
    The second is non-haem iron,  that is found in vegetables and is not as easily absorbed by the body. This is why many vegetarians and vegans suffer from anemia.

See also: Can Anemia Affect Your Emotions?

Iron also:

  • Participates in the production of substances from the blood,
  • Intervenes in DNA synthesis,
  • Is part of the cellular respiration process,
  • Assists in maintaining the immune system.

As if all this were not enough,  iron also participates in many chemical reactions and is vital in the production and release of energy.

Your iron levels

You can get your blood tested to find out whether you have iron deficiency:


  • The normal values in adult men are 80 to 180 ug/dl.
  • In adult women, they’re 60 to 160 ug/dl.
  • For children, it varies from 50 to 120 ug/dl.
  • In infants under 1, the values should be between 100 and 250 ug/dl.

If your iron levels are higher than the average, this could be due to diseases like:

Likewise, your iron levels may decrease in some specific circumstances such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Malnutrition
  • Cancer
  • Chronic blood loss
  • Chronic hypermenorrhea.

Consequences of iron deficiency

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Pay attention to certain signs that your body sends to tell us that it lacks this essential nutrient.

If you have several of these symptoms, it’s be good to consult a doctor and have a blood test:

1. Weakness and tiredness

Regardless of how many hours you sleep or the times during the day you rest, you always feel lethargic and lack strength. It’s hard for you to get up in the morning and you fall asleep anywhere.

Other than your daily demands, this weakness or fatigue may also be caused by a lack of iron.

Since this nutrient allows oxygen to be transported to cells, if it’s missing, our tissues don’t receive “fuel” and they fail to work.

Hence, less vitality and extreme fatigue after completing low-impact activities may be related to iron deficiency.

2. Poor performance and a bad mood

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The lack of this nutrient has a direct impact on our emotional states. That’s why it’s normal for us to be very irritable, depressed or moody when we lack iron.

In addition, if we add fatigue to this, the consequences are understandable: problems with work performance, with your studies or completing everyday tasks.

Pay attention if everything been going wrong lately and you can’t concentrate on your activities.

Furthermore, iron deficiency has a negative influence on memory and attention. You will need twice as much effort to do everything you try to do. You’ll also lose your motivation quickly, even with attempting to do tasks that you like.

3. Pallor

When you have anemia, it’s likely that your skin will become paler or whiter than usual.

This is because both the dermis and the mucosa tissues aren’t receiving enough oxygen.

Some people may have whitish color under their eyes (where the eyelashes start).

4. Dizziness and nausea

Mareos, vómitos y pérdida del apetito

One of the consequences of a lack of iron and a deficit in the amount of oxygen that the cells receive is feeling continuously dizzy.

In addition, you may experience the sensation of lacking air when trying to breathe. You may also inhale faster and more frequently (polypnea).

In more severe cases, people who don’t consume sufficient amounts of this nutrient may pass out at any time of the day. They may also experience ringing in their ears or suffer from lipodystrophies.

5. Palpitations

The rapid heartbeats that occur when you’re not exerting yourself or exercising may be related to iron deficiency.

When your blood doesn’t circulate well, the cardiac system must make greater efforts to pump it back to each organ.

Tachycardia, arrhythmias, and even acute myocardial infarction may occur.

6. Fragile nails and hair loss

When your nails break easily, are thin or have white marks on them near the cuticle, this could be due to lack of iron.

In the case of hair loss, this is due to the blood coming to the head with little oxygenation, which doesn’t nourish the hair follicles.

 

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