We have all been there. Burning the candle at both ends, multitasking until your head spins, and running from work to kid’s activities and falling exhausted into bed at night saying to yourself you have survived another day. Then the exhaustion gets worse and you are dragging yourself out of bed each day, every task feels like you are climbing a mountain, and getting off the couch to play with your children takes monumental effort. You think, “I am just doing too much” yet you can’t shake this constant fatigue. Any exercise you try causes you dizziness and shortness of breath and plays you right out. On top of that, you are not your perky, happy self and find yourself feeling sad and moody. Yes, Moms are doing too much but what if you are suffering from the most common deficiency in the world for women? Would you believe all of the above symptoms are signs you might be iron deficient?
You may have heard this before, but it’s time to really think about it: women need more iron. Iron deficiency in women is more common than you think, and while Moms burn the candle at both ends looking after everyone else’s needs, iron deficiency makes the candle burn even faster.
Why do most women need more iron than they're getting?
From the first period as a teenager to your last period in menopause, your iron status is determined by the loss of iron during your period and the demands of pregnancy and lactation. Women’s iron requirements double during pregnancy and, without proper diet and effective supplementation, iron stores can drop and continue to decline with each subsequent pregnancy. Many women report feeling worn out and moody after pregnancy and low iron is one of the reasons why. Research shows only one in five childbearing women start their pregnancy with adequate iron levels.
Why is iron so vital for mothers?
Adequate iron is needed for optimum fertility, proper placenta development, to increase red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the baby, aid the baby's brain development, and provide iron stores for the baby’s first six months of life.
Iron deficiency in pregnancy is linked with infertility, miscarriage, low birth weight babies, preterm labor, postpartum depression, and iron deficiency in infants. Being a new mom is exhausting because the learning curve of taking care of a new baby is steep, you are sleep deprived and healing from childbirth. Trying to cope with this phase of life while also being exhausted from iron deficiency...is it any wonder that it makes it harder to cope and is linked with postpartum depression?
Which iron supplements for best for women?
The safest option is to prevent iron deficiency with a low dose of iron supplementation to help meet the daily recommended allowance.
Research shows twenty milligrams per day of iron can correct iron deficiency in four out of five women suffering from iron deficiency. The Nurses Health study found that those who take plant (non-heme) iron supplements during the fertile years are 40% less likely to suffer from infertility related to ovulation.
If you are a woman experiencing fatigue and lack of energy, you’re not alone. Iron deficiency, or anemia, is one of the most common conditions for women, making it harder to get through the day. Finding out if you are anemic or iron-deficient is the first step to feeling better.Dr. Cathy Carlson-Rink is a licensed naturopathic physician and a registered midwife. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree with Distinction in Physical Education through the University of Saskatchewan and her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.), with a postgraduate specialization in Midwifery, from Bastyr University. She is recognized across Canada as the first licensed Naturopathic Physician also practicing as a Registered Midwife.