While anyone can experience iron-deficiency, some have a higher risk than others for developing iron deficiency and anemia. Let’s take a look at the adult at-risk groups.
- Women of childbearing age: According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 1 in 5 women of childbearing age has iron deficiency. Women in this group have a higher risk because of the blood lost during their periods and that risk increases in women who experience heavy periods;
- Pregnant women: Half of all pregnant women develop iron deficiency. The risk of iron deficiency increases during pregnancy because double the usual amount of iron is needed to accommodate the increased blood volume and to assist with the fetus’ growth; Iron deficiency during pregnancy – Learn more →
- Vegans and vegetarians: Since their diets lack food rich in heme iron, people who follow vegan or vegetarian diets or other restrictive diets have an increased risk of iron deficiency. While some vegetables are rich in iron, the iron from vegetables are non-heme irons which are not as well absorbed by the body as the iron found in meats, fish, and poultry; Vegetarian or vegan doesn’t have to mean iron deficiency! Learn more →
- Adults with celiac disease: Celiac disease can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron and other nutrients from food because of the damage that gluten causes to the lining of the gut; Learn more about celiac disease and iron deficiency →
- Adults with gastrointestinal disorders: Some GI conditions can cause internal bleeding and increase a person’s risk of iron deficiency. These include duodenal ulcers, colitis, and cancer. And Crohn’s disease, much like celiac disease, interferes with the body’s ability to absorb iron;
- Adults with Chronic Kidney Disease: While the disease itself can interfere with the body’s ability to produce red blood cells, kidney dialysis treatment also increases the risk of iron deficiency because of the blood lost during dialysis;
- Frequent Blood Donors: Donating blood is a wonderful thing to do, but frequent donors need to know that donating just a single unit of blood causes you to lose approximately 220 to 250 mg of iron that your body can take up to 2 months to replace even if you regularly eat foods high in iron. The Red Cross now recommends that frequent donors take a multivitamin containing iron or an iron supplement. Are you a frequent blood donor? You may need to replace your iron! Learn more →
Other at-risk groups include people living with HIV/AIDS, those who have had gastric bypass and other surgeries that remove parts of the intestine, and people on certain medications and medical treatments, such as chemo therapy.
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