You know those days where fatigue just gets the better of you and you spend your day feeling sluggish and unable to concentrate? If you were up late the night before or have had an especially hard and stressful week, then having a day like this may feel pretty normal. But, if you can’t pinpoint a cause for the way you’re feeling or find yourself feeling like that far too often, then you could be experiencing the symptoms of low iron.
What to Look For
Iron deficiency can cause several different symptoms that vary depending on how low your iron level is and how depleted your iron stores are. At least knowing what the most common symptoms of iron deficiency are can help you distinguish between a normal “off” day or a problem with your iron.
The most common symptoms of iron deficiency that are usually felt first are:
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability and mood swings
Iron deficiency also often causes:
How You Can Fix It
For starters, speak to your doctor about your concerns and ask to be tested for iron deficiency.
Getting your iron back up begins with adding more iron-rich foods to your diet, but eating more iron-rich food isn’t always enough. Chances are that your doctor will recommend that you take an iron supplement. Work with your doctor to choose the best one to meet your needs.
Things to consider when choosing your iron supplement:
- Elemental iron: This is the amount of iron available to be absorbed by your body, not to be mistaken with the total iron in the supplement.
- Dosing: You want to choose a supplement with a dosing schedule that works for your lifestyle. Some are taken once a day while others are broken up into multiple doses per day.
- Side effects: Iron supplements may cause gastrointestinal side effects, which can make them difficult to take as long as you need to. Polysaccharide-Iron Complex (PIC) and Heme Iron Polypeptide formulations have been found to be easier on the digestive system and cause fewer side effects.
There’s no sense in paying for a supplement that you’re not going to take or needing to buy additional products to help reduce the side effects. Also, not taking a supplement as directed by a healthcare professional can keep you from getting the iron you need and feeling better. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your needs and preferences and they can help you choose the right iron supplement.
You can also get educated in my article: Guide to Choosing the Right Iron Supplement or visit Supplementation Options for Adults & Supplementation Options for Children to learn more about the different options available.
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