Iron is an essential mineral that carries oxygen to the blood. If you're feeling tired all the time, it could be a sign that you're iron deficient. Women are especially susceptible to iron deficiency, due to blood loss during menstruation. Weakness, light-headedness, hair loss, and pale skin are also signs of a possible deficiency. It is important to explore the possible causes so that you will no longer need to rely on supplementation. Common root causes of iron deficiency include parasites, low stomach acid, deficiency in co-factors such as copper and vitamin C, and not eating enough iron-rich foods. Keep reading to learn more about these root causes and what you can do to prevent them.
Parasites: Parasites feed on iron, which can lead to iron deficiency if you have a parasite infection. Common symptoms of a parasitic infection include diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. If you suspect you have a parasite infection, see your doctor for treatment.
Low in co-factors: Copper is a co-factor that helps transport iron around the body. Without copper, iron can “pool’’ in one area. Think of copper as your car. Without it, you can’t get to work where you’re needed. Symptoms of copper deficiency include anemia, bone defects, and weakness. To prevent copper deficiency, eat foods that are rich in copper such as liver, oysters, crab, mussels, nuts, and seeds.
Low stomach acid: Stomach acid is necessary for the absorption of iron. If you have low stomach acid, you may be at risk for iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms of low stomach acid include heartburn, indigestion, and bloating. To increase stomach acid production, eat smaller meals more frequently and avoid processed foods.
Not eating enough iron-rich foods: One of the most common root causes of iron deficiency is simply not consuming enough iron-rich foods. Good sources of dietary iron include red meat, dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh. Include these foods in your diet or take an iron supplement to prevent iron deficiency anemia. Consuming a vitamin C rich food such as citrus, tomatoes, or bell pepper helps with the body’s absorption of iron.
If you're feeling tired all the time or suffer from other common symptoms of iron deficiency, it's important to see your doctor to rule out any serious underlying conditions. Iron deficiency is a common problem, but it can sometimes be a sign of something more serious. Be sure to get checked by a doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.