15 Signs You Are Iron Deficient: New Study Reveals!

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Are you looking pale, experiencing fatigue, and having a constant urge to catch a breath?

You might be suffering from iron deficiency, a prevalent condition that affects around 30% of the global population. 

Unfortunately, it’s the females who appear to be more affected by iron deficiency than men. WHO statistics reveal that over half a billion women aged between 15 – 49 suffer from iron deficiency.

At an early stage, iron deficiency is asymptomatic, however, over the long course, it can create several problems and potentially deplete the quality of life. It’s therefore essential to know the symptoms of iron deficiency and get it treated right away.

We share 15 signs that you are an iron-deficient woman – if you notice any of them, it’s time to visit your doctor.

Why is iron important for the body? Explore It’s Benefits

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

Our body needs iron to perform various key functions and for growth and development.

It’s the major component of hemoglobin cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to the heart and other parts of the body.

Iron is so critical for our blood that almost two-thirds of all iron supply goes to hemoglobin cells. Additionally, our body synthesizes iron to produce another key protein – myoglobin. It’s used to carry oxygen to our muscles.

Likewise, iron is needed for the production of various hormones in the body too. Thyroid hormone that regulates the body’s metabolic rate needs iron for its metabolism.

In short, iron is a key mineral for the body, and the immediate effects of its deficiency manifest in the form of anemia.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency in Women

Iron deficiency usually goes unnoticed. It’s when iron levels drop too low or the iron-deficiency anemia becomes too severe, does the symptoms begin to appear.

Here are the common signs of iron deficiency in women:

1. Exhaustion

If you appear abnormally exhausted it could be due to iron deficiency. Iron is needed for the transport of oxygen, which cells need to produce energy. Iron deficiency leads to poor oxygen supply which manifests in the form of exhaustion.

2. Cold Hands and Feet

Iron is needed to keep the body warm. When it’s in short supply, the body cannot produce enough heat and the effects appear in distal areas like hands and feet.

3. Paleness

Are you looking abnormally pale these days? It could be due to iron deficiency. Lack of iron severely declines the production of red blood cells and your body looks pale. The effects are more apparent in the inner mucosa eyes as well as on the lips.

4. Dry and Brittle Nails 

Iron is needed for the good health of nails. If you notice your nails breaking easily or there are stretch marks on them, know your body is gasping for iron.

5. Shortness of Breath 

Shortness of breath is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency. If you are out of breath even after a few flights of stairs, you may be iron deficient. It means your body’s cells aren’t receiving the necessary oxygen supply needed for energy production.

6. Headaches, Dizziness, Vertigo

Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia. Low blood supply prevents the brain from functioning at 100 percent. It may lead to swelling in the brain which triggers headaches and dizziness.

7. Hair Fall 

Your brush or comb appears to have more hair recently, it could be due to iron deficiency. Iron is needed for cell growth including hair follicles. When iron is low, it forces hair follicles into the telogen phase. It’s when hair follicles stop growing and fall off.

8. Swollen Tongue (Glossitis)

Iron deficiency can have some discomforting symptoms too. If your tongue suddenly appears inflamed or painful, you might be suffering from iron deficiency anemia. Anemia leads to low oxygen and nutrients supply to the tongue which appears in the form of inflammation and pain.

9. Heart Palpitations

Iron deficiency significantly reduces the supply of oxygen in the body. Your heart has to do a double shift to keep the body oxygenated. This extra can appear in the form of a heart murmur, palpitations, and heart enlargement.

10. Cracked Skin 

Your otherwise flawless skin has lost all its luster recently? It’s a sign of iron deficiency. Low iron means lower hemoglobin levels which translates to a reduced oxygen supply. Due to a lack of oxygen, skin cells could not function properly or repair themselves, causing dullness, cracks, and pigmentation.

11. Tinnitus 

Pulsatile tinnitus is a less common sign of iron deficiency, but if you have suddenly begun to hear ringing and murmur in your ears, get your iron levels checked. Reducing oxygen supply forces arteries to work overtime. All the hard work and change in blood flow don’t go unnoticed by our sensitive ears and you notice a ringing sound.

12. Nails Bent Inwards 

Koilonychia or spoon-shaped nails are also a sign of iron deficiency. If you notice your nails growing inwards, it could be that your body is lacking iron.

13. Unusual Food Craving

Do you have an unusual urge to chug in some ice, clay, or soil? It might be the iron deficiency kicking in. A hankering for these unusual items with no nutritional value has been linked to iron deficiency by several studies.

14. Mouth Ulcers 

Iron decency and B12 vitamin deficiency go hand in hand. When the body is low on iron and B1 2 vitamins, it causes mouth ulcers too. Although less common, if you are experiencing frequent mouth ulcers, it might be a sign of iron deficiency.

15. Restless Leg Syndrome

One unusual sign of iron deficiency in women is restless Leg Syndrome. When your body has low iron levels, dopamine levels in your brain plummet too, leading to restless leg syndrome. So, if you have this constant urge to move your legs, your body might be yearning for more iron.

Summary

Iron is crucial for health. Women, however, need iron more than men. They might lose it in the form of blood during menstrual cycles and pregnancy when the demand for iron is too high. This might be the reason there are more anemic women than men worldwide.

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, you are most likely an iron-deficient woman. Consult a doctor as soon as possible and get your iron levels checked. But most importantly never try to treat iron deficiency on your own. Follow the doctor’s advice and include iron supplements as prescribed by a registered medical practitioner.

References

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Iron-deficiency anemia
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your guide to anemia

Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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