Are You Getting Enough Iron?

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday and she was telling us about symptoms her young daughter was having that led her pediatrician to believe that she may have an iron deficiency. I was doing a little research for her and came to realize this is a common problem in children and adults and can lead to other health complications, such as anemia.

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There are many reasons for children to suffer with iron deficiency. Apart from a poor diet and the inability to absorb iron from foods, iron deficiency in children may also occur due to long-term slow, blood loss and rapid growth. Children absorb only 10% of iron through their food intake. Therefore, it is necessary for them to receive 8-10mg of iron a day.

Children with iron deficiency may suffer with symptoms such as:

  • Extreme fussiness
  • Have a short attention span
  • Grow slowly than other children
  • May develop their motor skills slower than others

Not only do children suffer from this common deficiency, but many adults do, too. Vegetarians and woman (especially pregnant women) are among those most likely to be diagnosed. Women lose more blood than men because of their monthly period and also during child birth. They may also lose iron during pregnancy and breastfeeding as these nutrients are transferred to the baby. Vegetarians deficiency is caused from the body’s inability to absorb plant based sources. Other factors, including other foods and nutrients consumed with iron, can contribute to poor absorption. These are called iron inhibitors. Some common iron inhibitors include: grains, legumes, fiber, egg protein, minerals (like calcium, zinc, copper and magnesium), coffee, tea, some herbs (including peppermint and chamomile) and cocoa.

Common symptoms for adult men and women with iron deficiency include…

  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin color
  • Poor appetite or Pica
  • Altered stool color
  • Burning sensation in tongue
  • Altered sense of touch
  • Angina
  • Brittle nails
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling cold
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Restless leg syndrome

So what can you do to make sure you  are getting enough iron?

Diet changes alone usually aren’t enough to replenish depleted iron stores, separate daily iron supplement may be required. Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach, because it can occasionally cause stomach upset. Kids who experience stomach problems when taking iron supplements may need to take them with a small amount of food. Iron should not, however, be given with milk or caffeinated beverages, which will interfere with absorption. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption, so try to include plenty of sources of vitamin C in your child’s diet. Always consult your doctor before giving or taking any supplements.

I hope this helps many of you… After doing this research i am thinking i may need to go get tested!

Talk to you soon!

~Erica

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