Are you having low levels of iron in your blood? Iron is a component of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells.
When your blood does not have enough iron, you are likely to suffer from a condition known as anemia.
In this article, we will look at the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of low iron levels.
Summary: Iron deficiency is a condition that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. It is usually diagnosed with a simple blood test, and the treatment may involve changes to your diet or iron supplements.
What happens if you have low levels of iron in your blood?
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If your blood is not having sufficient amounts of iron, the production of hemoglobin decreases, generating some symptoms, including:
- Pale skin
- Cold hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Restless legs
- Irregular heartbeat
It is important to note that, not everyone with low iron levels will experience the symptoms above.
Causes of Low Iron Levels
Low iron levels, also known as iron deficiency, can be caused by many factors, including:
- Poor diet
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Frequent blood donation
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
This involves a serum iron test to measure the levels of iron in the blood, as well as the number and appearance of red blood cells.
The normal range for serum iron levels in adults is typically between 60 and 170 mcg/dL for men, and between 50 and 150 mcg/dL for women.
The doctor may also do a physical exam to check for signs like pale skin or an enlarged spleen.
Depending on how serious the condition is, there are some ways to treat iron deficiency, such as:
- Iron supplementation
- Blood transfusions
- Treating gastrointestinal disorder
- Kidney dialysis
How to Manage Low Iron Levels
In addition to the medical treatment, there are lifestyle changes that can help manage low iron levels, including:
- Eat foods rich in iron
- Eat foods high in vitamin C
- Take iron supplements
- Manage stress
- Regular exercise
When eating iron-rich foods, you should stick to the recommended daily intake to ensure your body gets enough iron.
Here are the RDI for iron according to age and gender:
- Infants 0-6 months: 0.27 mg
- Infants 7-12 months: 11 mg
- Children 1-3 years: 7 mg
- Children 4-8 years: 10 mg
- Children 9-13 years: 8 mg
- Boys 14-18 years: 11 mg
- Girls 14-18 years: 15 mg
- Adult men 19-50 years: 8 mg
- Adult women 19-50 years: 18 mg
- Adult men 51+ years: 8 mg
- Adult women 51+ years: 8 mg
Pregnant women have higher demand for iron, the RDI is 27 mg.
Vegetarians and vegans should also consume iron to meet their daily needs, since plant-based sources of iron are not absorbed efficiently as animal-based sources.
Lastly, try to avoid medications that interferes and reduces iron in the blood. Some iron-lowering drugs include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs: Aspirin and ibuprofen lowers iron levels in the blood by reducing inflammation.
- Proton pump inhibitors: These drugs are used to treat acid reflux and stomach ulcers, decreasing iron absorption in the intestines.
- ACE inhibitors: Blood pressure medications like lisinopril and enalapril.
Conclusion: Are you having low levels of iron in your blood?
Low iron levels causes a range of symptoms and may have some significant impact on your health.
If your body begins to show symptoms of low iron levels, talk to your doctor, ask for guidance, tips and appropriate treatment plan.
In many cases, making dietary and lifestyle changes improves iron levels in the blood and gets rid of the symptoms.
Taking steps to boost iron levels is important for keeping good health and preventing complications linked with anemia.