Iron Deficiency Symptoms

The body is in need of the mineral iron in order to produce hemoglobin and myoglobin.

The oxygen-carrying red colored protein found in blood cells is known as hemoglobin while myoglobin is the protein responsible in carrying oxygen in muscle cells.

Iron is also required in various chemical processes in the body. This mineral is vitally important in the body as there are various health disorders that entails insufficient intake of iron. Depletion of this mineral in the body is commonly referred as iron deficiency.

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

Iron deficiency symptoms can occur when one’s diet does not include an adaquate amount of iron; when there is excessive loss of blood; or when the body has increased its need for iron – such as during pregnancy, breastfeeding and adolescence.

When there is insufficient amount of iron in the body, there will not be enough red blood cells to correctly carry oxygen throughout the body. Insufficient red blood cells in the body is a condition known as anemia, with symptoms that include tiredness and paleness.

Severe anemia can give rise to increased or irregular heart rate as the heart will pump more blood in order to make up for the lack of oxygen. Iron deficiency doesn’t always result in anemia as it can also lead to having a weakened immune system or lethargy and other health problems.

During the early stages of iron deficiency, an individual could experience decreased intellectual performance, tiredness, increased susceptibility to lead poisoning, and reduced resistance to infection. Later stages can lead to appetite loss, rapid heart action or tachycardia, pallor, irritability, decreased tolerance for exercise and enlargement of the heart or cardiomegaly. Some of the other common iron deficiency symptoms  includes brittle nails, lack of energy, tiredness, sore mouth or tongue, headaches, shortness of breath, pain in the chest pale gums, skin and nail beds.

 The recommended dietary allowances for iron are as follows:

AGE Amount (mg) per day
0 to 6 months 0.27
7 to 12 months 11
1 to 3 years 7
4 to 8 years 10
9 to 13 years 8
Male 14 to 18 years 11
Female 14 to 18 years 15
Male 19 years and above 8
Female 19 years and above 18
Pregnant women 27
Lactating (14 to 18 yrs) 10
Lactating (19 to 50 yrs) 9

Foods that are highly rich in iron include lentils, oatmeal, beans, spinach, tofu, chicken, oyster, pork, tuna, beef, crab, shrimp, molasses and raisins. Eating these may help in the prevention of iron deficiencies.

 References and Further Reading

University of Maryland Medical Center; Office of Dietary supplements; MedlinePlus; Columbia University.