Are YOU At Risk?

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

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2 thoughts on “Are YOU At Risk?

  1. Darren says:

    Hello, I had UC and had surgery to form a j pouch approx 15yrs ago. About 10 yrs ago my big toe on one foot started to go numb, doc said I was pre diabetic but also that my diabetic numbers are not likely to be the cause. When I went to the meetings for newly diagnosed diabetics nobody else had numb toes even though they had much higher numbers. Eventually I had nerve pain all over my body, and fainted several times, had no energy, couldn’t get my wind, etc. I was finally diagnosed with anemia which was thought to be caused by a tiny bleed at j pouch site. I have been on iron infusions for about a yr because I couldn’t tolerate any oral iron supplements. Finally a nurse at the hospital told me that she had surgery to remove a small piece of ilium and this inhibited her ability to absorb vit B. Sure enough I tested low for vit B12. Apparently this can cause many of the nerve and now brain symptoms that I am now having. I have had my first vit B12 shot yesterday and have been referred to another NatPath MD for further diagnosis. Should I be worried about other vitamin absorption?

  2. Leona, RN & Blood Specialist says:

    Hi Darren,

    As I read your story the first thing I thought of was B12 deficiency.

    If we think of iron as the bricks of a healthy blood supply and hemoglobin the brick wall, B12 is the stone mason. B12 is needed to convert iron to HGB. Without enough B12 you may become anemic despite having an adequate supply of iron. The early symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency are numbness and tingling as you have described.

    Recent literature suggests unbound B12 taken sub-lingual is as effective as injected B12.

    Yes I would be concerned regarding other vitamin deficiencies. Your physician can order blood tests that will measure all vitamin and micro-nutrient levels.

    When you say you have side effects from “all’ oral iron supplements I need to ask if you have tried the polysaccharide or heme iron preparations, these preparations have less side effects and if tolerated may negate the need for the more invasive IV iron infusion.


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