There is so much more to iron deficiency than just not getting enough iron! I’ve rounded up the top 10 things my patients are surprised to learn about iron deficiency. Knowing these things can help you make better choices. Here we go…
- Iron makes up a part of every single cell in our body;
- Globally, 1.62 billion people are affected by anemia according to the World Health Organization (WHO);
- Children have a higher risk of iron deficiency because of the amount of iron needed to accommodate growth spurts. Iron deficiency in children has been linked to poor cognitive development;
- Iron deficiency commonly causes a triad of symptoms that many people often chalk up to just being busy or overworked. They include: chronic fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating;
- Iron deficiency can affect your appearance by way of hair loss and brittle nails;
- Pica, which is a pattern of eating unusual materials, is linked to iron deficiency anemia. Though it mostly affects children (anywhere from 10% – 32% of children aged 1 – 6) it can also affect adults. Those with pica may eat dirt, paper, ice, and even animal feces. Adults with pica often crave a certain texture in their mouths.
- Coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate block the absorption of non-heme iron (iron found in plants and iron-fortified). The absorption of heme iron (iron found in meat and fish) is not affected by these foods;
- Steel-cut oatmeal is a great source of iron, until you add milk or even milk alternatives which can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the iron properly;
- Antacids, which many of us pop like candy, block absorption of iron salts and non-heme irons while Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 inhibitors (that are commonly prescribed for acid reflux and heartburn) also block absorption of iron salts putting you at risk for iron deficiency;
- Donating blood can lead to iron deficiency if you do it often. A study of 2,425 blood donors found that men who had given blood at least three times and women who had given blood at least two times in the previous year were over five times as likely to have low iron stores, compared to first-time donors.
Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs