Doctor advises what to eat to help an iron deficiency
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Iron is a crucial mineral that is responsible for a number of vital roles in your body. Most cases of iron deficiency stem from inadequate iron intake, but internal bleeding, heavy periods and genetics can also play a role. Fortunately, iron tablets and iron-rich foods can help replenish your levels once you identify the condition. Asthenia could alert you of the missing nutrient.
Iron helps your body produce red blood cells, which contain a protein called haemoglobin that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body.
Stripped of this key process, your organs and tissues won’t get as much oxygen as they should.
This prompts your body to stir up the warning signs, alerting you of the deficiency.
Asthenia is one of the tell-tale signs that could ring alarm bells, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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Asthenia describes physical weakness or a lack of energy that can target specific body parts, as well as the entire body.
The haemoglobin in red blood cells ensures good oxygen circulation, so low levels caused by iron deficiency make the oxygen supply also lower.
That’s why people with this deficiency can start feeling tired and weak.
However, asthenia isn’t the only indicator of iron deficiency.
The Mayo Clinic shares that other symptoms can include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
- Headache, dizziness or light-headedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances (ice, dirt or starch)
- Poor appetite (especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anaemia).
The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you suffer from any iron deficiency symptoms.
Fortunately, a simple blood test will be able to reveal the deficiency and get you diagnosed.
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Once your doctor identifies the reason behind your iron deficiency, they will choose the best course of treatment for you.
From dietary supplements to an iron-packed diet, there are various treatments available.
If your blood tests indicate low red blood cell count, iron tablets will be able to replace the missing mineral.
The NHS advises drinking orange juice after you’ve taken your supplement, as it may help your body absorb the mineral.
If your diet is causing the iron deficiency, your GP might prescribe a food regimen rich in the nutrient.
The NHS shares that good food sources of iron include:
- Dark-green leafy vegetables like watercress and curly kale
- Fortified cereals and bread with extra iron
- Dried fruit like apricots, prunes and raisins
- Pulses (beans, peas and lentils).
“You might be referred to a specialist dietitian if you’re finding it hard to include iron in your diet,” the health service adds.
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