When your red blood cell (RBC) count is lower than normal, that means you have anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron. Because iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your body’s tissues, a lack of iron will lead to a lack of oxygen in your body.
Some people have iron deficiency anemia for years before symptoms show up. Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Restless legs syndrome
- Cravings for non-food items such as dirt, ice, and clay
While the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are similar for most people, the causes can vary. Here are 4 causes of iron deficiency anemia:
Blood loss can cause a deficiency in iron because each milliliter of red blood cells contains one milligram of iron. Heavy menstruation, blood donation, nosebleeds, and internal bleeding including the GI tract can all cause a reduction in iron levels.
Our body absorbs iron through the foods we eat from the GI tract. Foods like red meat, pork, seafood, dark green leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals are high in iron. Make sure to eat or drink foods high in vitamin C alongside the iron-rich foods because they will help you efficiently absorb the iron. Find a healthy balance – too much iron in your diet can cause unwanted side effects.
Inability to Absorb Iron
Certain disorders or conditions can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron. Celiac disease, gastric bypass surgery, and bacterial infections can limit your intake of iron, so check with your healthcare provider if you have any of these conditions.
Expecting mothers and their future infants require higher levels of iron throughout pregnancy, an incident of severe blood loss to cause damage. Blood loss during pregnancy and childbirth can have a debilitating effect on a child’s development as well as have negative implications for the mother. Consult with your healthcare provider to learn about iron supplements during pregnancy.
Contact your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms related to iron deficiency anemia or want to learn more information about what you can do to increase your iron levels.