Iron is an essential mineral required by the body for proper growth and functioning. It is stored in the body in the form of “Ferritin”, a storehouse from which the body utilises the mineral if fallen short of in the daily diet. Iron is responsible for:
- Making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all other parts of the body
- Myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles
- Producing certain hormones that help in the efficient functioning of the body
Do you know what happens when the iron stores of the body reach a dangerously low level? It gives birth to a condition called “Iron deficiency anemia”.
Anemia is characterized by depleted or very low levels of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Since Iron is responsible for producing and maintaining the Hemoglobin levels, thus this condition is also named as- Iron deficiency anemia.
Iron-deficiency anemia is the result of insufficient iron which results in less blood in the body due to which your body will not be able to get the oxygen required for doing its daily activities with the required energy.
The numerous signs that suggest you have an iron-deficiency anemia include shortness of breath, pale skin, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, cold hands and feet, tingling feeling in the legs, muscle weakness, brittle nails and hair, cravings for ice, dirt or starch, poor appetite and many others.
Though, many people may not be aware of this condition until they actually go for a medical test or blood test to confirm the same.
What are the major Causes of Iron deficiency Anemia?
Some major causes of this unhealthy condition are:
- Consuming insufficient or too little iron in daily diet for a long period of time, since iron is nor naturally produced and has to be acquired from food sources only.
- Girls/Women in the age bracket of menstruation cycle or women who are pregnant face a high risk of shortage due to blood loss during menstruation and childbirth.
- Internal bleeding due to conditions such as stomach ulcer, polyps in colon or intestines or piles.
- Regular intake of pain relievers like aspirin and some other medications that interfere with the healthy environment of the body.
- Certain disorders or surgeries that affect the intestines and interfere with their ability to absorb iron in the body.
- Being a vegetarian, and not consuming heme-iron food which includes poultry and seafood, high in the concentration of this mineral.
Iron deficiency Anemia treatment
Anemia may be a cause of worry, but it is a treatable condition. There are many treatment options available for iron-deficiency anemia, some available over the counter and some right inside your kitchen. The best known treatments include:
- Taking iron supplements in the dosage and for the time period prescribed by a registered practitioner, depending on the level of deficiency.
- Consuming a diet rich in iron and making a combination of heme- iron (non-veg) and non-heme (plant based) food sources in daily diet. For eg: red meat, chicken, fish, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, cereals, dried fruits, etc.
- Including Vitamin C in your diet by taking citrus fruits like oranges, sweet lime, pineapple, papaya, lemons, etc. that are rich in this vitamin which helps your body to absorb iron.
- Consult a competent medical practitioner if you are facing excessive bleeding during menstruation or any other time.
- Blood transfusion, or iron injections in case of emergencies for an urgent boost in the iron level.
Prevention is always better than cure and the same should be followed for iron requirements so that the shortfall doesn’t arise and you are able to lead a healthy life.