Types of Iron Deficiency

Did you know there are different types of Iron Deficiency? A person can become iron deficient or anemic for different reasons and this isn’t limited to adults, but can actually happen to people of all ages, with some types of anemia being more common than others. Let’s look at some of the types of anemia for a better understanding of who is at risk and why.

1. Increased Blood Volume

A sudden increase in blood volume in the body requires more iron and without supplementing iron, your body may not be able to keep up with its new needs. This is often the case during pregnancy because a woman’s blood volume increases significantly, requiring considerably more iron in order to keep up.

An increase in blood volume leading to iron deficiency and anemia is also common in babies and toddlers as well as during puberty due to growth spurts. Girls going through puberty have an even higher risk of iron deficiency during this time not only because this is a time of rapid growth, but also because of the blood lost every month once their period begins.

2. Blood Loss

Blood loss is the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia. When you lose blood you lose iron and this is why women who are menstruating have an increased risk of iron deficiency. This is especially the case for women who experience heavy periods. The heavier the period, the more iron their body needs to keep up with the blood lost each month.

3. Absorption

Certain conditions can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron from the iron rich foods you eat and cause iron deficiency. Some of these conditions include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and chronic kidney disease. Those taking proton pump inhibitors or high amounts of antacids for acid reflux, causing the body to produce insufficient amounts of stomach acid can also have problems absorbing enough iron from their diet.

Absorption is also a problem for many of those who undergo gastric bypass surgery. This is because most of the iron you get from foods rich in iron is absorbed in the first part of the small intestine, which food bypasses after this procedure. The same risk applies to those who have had surgery to remove part of or all of the small intestine due to cancer or other medical conditions.


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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11 thoughts on “Types of Iron Deficiency

  1. Leona, RN & Blood Specialist says:

    Hi Ana – I would suggest, if you haven’t already, that you share these symptoms with your primary health care provider. Three years is a long time to be feeling miserable.


  2. Christine says:

    Hi, I am 47 and have a regular period that last 2.5 days and is a medium flow. As I get older I notice my period fatigue is getting much worse. I would say it is severe during my period. I am taking one Faramax/day during my period but am finding lately it’s not enough. How much can I safely take during my period and do you think I should take one/day the rest of the month as well?

  3. Leona, RN & Blood Specialist says:

    Hi Christine,

    The standard dose for FeraMAX 150 is one capsule daily, but some patients take 3 – 4 capsules per day based on the advice of their healthcare provider.

    For my iron depleted patients, I suggest that they open the capsule and dissolve the contents into warm water to improve absorption. For patients who normally take FeraMAX 150 daily, I suggest they up their daily dose by one during their cycle and for a week following to ensure they replete what they lost.


  4. Diane says:

    My 9 year old son has low iron for the second time in the last 6 months. He was put on palafer, 5ml twice a day which is equivalent to 200 mg of elemental iron. I want to switch him to feramax because he can’t have gluten and can’t tolerate the palafer anymore. The feramax says 1 tsp is equivalent to 60mg, does that mean I have to give him 3 teaspoons, is that safe as the dosage for his age says 1/2 tsp.


  5. aggarstin says:

    I’m 53-year old woman with still heavy periods. I also have Hashimoto disease and a sensitive digestive tract (could not tolerate iron salts). I do not eat beef but I eat bison, fish, poultry, nuts and oatmeal. My ferritin level was 19 and my GP said it was on the low side and suggested that I give Proferrin a try.

    I seem to tolerate it better than other iron supplements; however, I seem to get tremendous gas when I take it on an empty stomach. My question is, will my body acclimate to it?


    • Leona, RN & Blood Specialist says:

      Hi Aggarstin,

      You are certainly in the “at risk population for iron deficiency“. Your physician is right, a normal Ferritin is 20-300, but we know some patients may be symptomatic of iron deficiency (chronic fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating) with Ferritin levels less than 50.

      Looks like you have a good handle on your iron-rich diet. I want to take the opportunity to remind you to watch out for foods that may inhibit the absorption of your non-heme irons (nuts, oatmeal etc.) specifically coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and calcium rich foods.

      Sensitive digestive tracts are a very good reason to choose a non-iron salt supplement such as the heme iron formulation (like Proferrin, which your doctor has recommended) or a Polysaccharide-iron complex formulation (like FeraMAX 150). The beauty of these supplements is that the digestive tract issues you experience with iron salts are significantly decreased (if not eliminated). Both of these products are not as effected by what you eat or drink, so certainly I would encourage you to try taking it with food to see if your symptoms improve.

      If this side effect continues, you still have a few options. If you take only one dose a day, consider taking it before you retire for the day – you may still be bloated but you will be asleep and likely won’t notice it. You may also want to speak with your physician regarding a trial of Polysaccharide iron (like FeraMAX 150).

      Keep me in the loop!

      • aggarstin says:

        Thank you kindly for your helpful response. I certainly will try to take Proferrin with food to see what happens. Also, in your experience what is the length of time to “up” one’s levels to desired numbers? I am not particularly symptomatic, but I would like to be within better margins.

        Thanks again.

        • Leona, RN & Blood Specialist says:

          Hi Aggarstin,

          So happy to hear from you again so soon. In my clinical experience, 4-6 weeks should put you safely back into what is considered normal range (Ferritin Level greater than 20). With a mindful effort to eat for iron-rich foods, avoid iron inhibiting foods and compliance with oral iron supplementation you should be able to restore your ferritin level to above 50 in 3-6 months.

          Again please keep us informed of our progress.

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