You might be thinking that you’ve been feeling a little tired lately. Or that you’re missing some get-up-and-go. These are common symptoms of low iron.
Tiredness and exhaustion have become so common in our culture that we frequently ignore these symptoms. What might feel like a normal symptom of a restless night (or nights) of sleep might actually be a sign of a very common nutrient deficiency.
Without enough iron, our body can’t produce hemoglobin in our blood and hemoglobin’s main job is to bring oxygen to our cells. Without oxygen, our cells don’t function properly, leading to many symptoms including exhaustion. This is the most common deficiency worldwide, affecting 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men.
Iron deficiency vs. anemia
When our iron levels drop so low that it affects our hemoglobin, this is called anemia. For most, an earlier symptom of low iron is low ferritin levels in the blood. Ferritin levels are tested at a medical clinic whenever anemia is suspected. At-home metabolism tests can also be found at your local pharmacy in order to check for low ferritin.
Iron is really hard to absorb!
When our iron levels are low it’s important to eat more iron-rich foods and to supplement. But, if you’re struggling to raise your iron levels even with an iron-rich diet, you might have an issue with absorption.
Iron is a particularly hard mineral to absorb. Iron needs a highly acidic environment in the stomach for it to be properly ionized and absorbed. Taking a high supplemental dose of iron might help raise your iron levels, but that can come with some unpleasant side effects, like digestive distress and constipation.
By using a low-dose, ferrous gluconate iron supplement, that also includes the co-factor nutrients needed for absorption, like with Iron+, you can increase your iron absorption without any nasty side effects.
Four symptoms of low iron
1. Unusually Tired -
Are you dragging yourself through your day? Does your body feel so heavy that you want to rest after just a bit of activity?
Low iron can make you feel TIRED, and it’s a good time to have your iron levels tested. Even subclinical low iron levels can affect your energy, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them!
2. Chalky pale appearance –
Could you describe your appearance as kinda vampire-like? Is the inside of your lower eyelids pale?
It’s the hemoglobin in your blood that gives it its red color, and low iron can make your blood less red. Our skin, including our rosy cheeks, get their color from the iron-rich blood traveling beneath the surface.
3. Shortness of breath –
Whenever I need to catch my breath at the top of a short flight of stairs, I consider my iron levels.
Hemoglobin carries oxygen and if our hemoglobin is low then our cells get less oxygen. Your breathing rate will increase to help oxygenate our tissues, so watch for anytime you’re out of breath after just a bit of exercise.
4. Dry & Damaged Skin and Hair –
It’s always a worry when our hair starts to fall out faster than usual or when our skin feels extra dry and sensitive.
A lesser-known, but very common cause of hair loss and dry skin is low iron. Your skin and hair need iron/oxygen, but they’re not necessary for survival. If your levels are low, your body will redirect your blood and oxygen to more important organs, like your heart and digestive system.
When our skin and hair are deprived of oxygen, they become dry and weak, and if your levels are really low, your hair might start falling out.
If your iron levels are low it’s important to increase the iron-rich foods in your diet, like beans, spinach, and liver. But, for many, a supplement is needed. Many of my clients resist taking an iron supplement because they can cause constipation and other digestive issues.
Instead, try rebalancing with Flora Iron+. This innovative formula features liquid ferrous gluconate — a form of iron known to be well absorbed and support healthy iron levels.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of LisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.