How do you know if you have iron deficieny?
Iron deficiency is a common condition that can cause a range of symptoms, from fatigue and weakness to headaches and problems with concentration. Unfortunately, many people don't know they're iron deficient until they're experiencing more severe symptoms, which is why it's so important to be self-aware and informed about the condition. If you're feeling tired all the time, have trouble concentrating, or notice that your skin looks pale, it may be worth getting your iron levels checked. It's also helpful to know that some groups are more at risk for iron deficiency, including pregnant women, young children, and people who don't eat enough iron-rich foods. By being aware of the signs and risk factors associated with iron deficiency, you can take steps to prevent it and maintain your overall health and well-being.
Overview of iron's role in the body
As human beings, our bodies are constantly in motion, powering through the day-to-day demands of life. To keep up this bustling pace, one mineral stands out as particularly essential - iron. Though often overlooked, iron plays a crucial role in maintaining hemoglobin levels, which ensure that oxygen gets transported to our muscles and tissues. From powering our thoughts to helping us climb the stairs, iron keeps us moving. Yet despite its importance, many struggle to maintain optimal iron levels. Whether through dietary changes or medical intervention, it's important that we take care of our bodies and give them the nourishment they need to thrive.
Iron may seem like just another mineral to some, but it plays a crucial role in our overall health. It's responsible for providing our body with the necessary energy to function, as well as supporting the development of important bodily cells. In addition, iron is critical for neurological growth, endocrine function, and the synthesis of other essential nutrients. Without enough iron in our diets, we can experience a range of negative symptoms, from feeling fatigued and lethargic, to weaker immunity and poor cognitive function.
The Iron Recycling System (Reticuloendothelial System)
It's always fascinating to learn about the inner workings of the human body and the iron recycling system is no exception. Our body has an intricate balance that allows us to recycle the iron we have already used. The Reticuloendothelial System (RES) is made up of different organs that work together to achieve this goal. This system consists of our red blood cells, small intestine, liver, spleen, and bone marrow. The liver, in particular, is responsible for taking out older red blood cells, while the bone marrow produces monocytes that eventually turn into macrophages, which help recycle the iron. With this system in place, our body can reuse iron rather than losing it completely through sweat, bowels, or menstruation.
Iron deficiency is a common issue that many people face today, and for most, the root cause is often linked to the way our RES (reticuloendothelial system) functions. On average, we recycle approximately 24 mg of iron daily, leaving us with just a measly 1mg of iron to potentially absorb from food. However, this is only if our RES is working appropriately, and for the most part, many people’s RES aren’t, hence why so many struggle with iron issues today.
Factors Hindering the RES and Leading to Iron Deficiency
Do you ever feel exhausted, irritable and apathetic? Have you been feeling more fatigued than usual lately with no clear explanation? If this is the case for you, iron deficiency might be an underlying cause. Iron is essential to a functioning human body because it helps transport oxygen throughout our bloodstreams.
Certain factors can impede the RES system, contributing to a lack of iron. These factors include the following:
- Too much iron in the diet, or through supplementation
- Adrenal issues, such as adrenal fatigue
- Infections that feed off iron, like parasites, bacteria, viruses
- Poor liver function
- An inability to transform ferric iron to ferrous
- Copper deficiency or dysregulation
- Retinol deficiency
- Inability to synthesize ceruloplasmin, a protein needed to use copper
- Low hepcidin, a protein that regulates how much iron we absorb
Statistics on Iron Deficiency
When we think of iron deficiency, we often associate it with a lack of energy and fatigue. The reality is, iron deficiency anemia is a serious condition that affects almost a quarter of the world's population. It's not just about feeling tired, but rather the consequences that come with it. Anemia can lead to other health issues such as weakened immune systems and cognitive impairments. It's important to be aware of the symptoms and to work with a healthcare professional to ensure that our iron levels are where they should be. Let's come together to raise awareness and support those who are affected by this common and often overlooked issue.
Statistics show that iron deficiency affects almost a quarter of the world population with iron deficiency anemia the most common reason. In the United States alone, an estimated 2-5% of females struggle with iron deficiency anemia, and 1-2% of males which is staggering considering the amount of iron fortification there is in the North American diet, causing us to beg the question is it the amount of iron consumption that is lacking or its precursors?
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
Dealing with iron deficiency can be a real challenge. If you're finding it difficult to boost your iron levels, it's important to review other elements in your diet that can help and hinder iron absorption. Luckily, iron works cohesively with many different elements like copper, zinc, and vitamin C, just to name a few.
The symptoms of iron deficiency can present in a variety of ways, such as:
- Low body temperature
- Hair loss
- Weak or brittle nails
- Pale skin
- Cravings for ice
- Brain fog
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Pounding in the ears
- Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
Testing for Iron Deficiency
If you've been feeling fatigued, weak, or experiencing hair loss, it could be due to iron deficiency. While the best way to test iron levels is through a serum test, it's also important to assess your mineral and metal status as a potential root cause of iron deficiency. A hair tissue mineral analysis, or HTMA, can provide valuable insight into your body's mineral levels. We recommend discussing with your MD to get a full Monty Iron Panel along with an HTMA test.
By ordering an HTMA with us, you can identify several factors that can potentially affect your health. These factors include heavy metal concentrations that may hinder iron absorption, optimal functioning of the liver, the presence of copper deficiency or dysregulation, and adrenal gland health.
If you are interested in our services, please click here to order your HTMA.