Chronic fatigue can have multiple causes, including lack of exercise, dehydration and poor sleep quality.
One of the lesser-known causes is actually iron deficiency, which affects a significant portion of the population, but often goes misdiagnosed.
In fact, even a routine blood test at your doctor’s office may not be able to give an accurate diagnosis.
The Importance Of Iron
Iron is a mineral that plays an important role in the transportation of oxygen within your blood. Actually, iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, an erythrocyte protein that provides oxygen to your muscles and tissues. Hemoglobin is also the component of red blood cells that give your blood its red color (1)
The mineral is essential for growth, development, normal cellular functioning, and synthesis of some hormones and connective tissue. It’s also essential for foetal development. Iron is stored as ferritin or hemosiderin in the liver, spleen, bone marrow and muscle tissue (2).
When You Don’t Get Enough
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body is lacking iron and therefor cannot produce enough hemoglobin (3).
Common symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Frequent infections
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
- Brittle nails
- Fast heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children
- An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)
Low iron levels can also lead to gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognitive function, poor immune function, low exercise or work performance and poor body temperature regulation. Unfortunately, you can experience the symptoms for years without knowing the cause.
Some people are more prone to developing anemia, like pregnant women, menstruating women, vegetarians and vegans, frequent blood donors, children and people with impaired nutrient absorption. Certain prescription drugs may also interfere with iron absorption.
Why Is It Hard To Diagnose?
Blood tests done during your regular doctor’s visits typically measure ferritin levels in your blood. The problem is, the range considered “healthy” is too broad to truly assess anemia in its early stages. Currently the standard spans from 12-150 ug/l.
However, symptoms of anemia typically only disappear when you reach 80 ug/l. Ferritin levels also tend to be high in patients suffering from inflammation or infection, making it harder to diagnose iron deficiency (4).
The best way to diagnose anemia is to preform a complete blood cell (CBC) test, which measures red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit and platelets. This test is much more accurate because haemoglobin and white blood cell count tend to be lower in people suffering from anemia, even if they don’t present other symptoms.
How To Get More Iron
Iron is a naturally occurring mineral in many of the food you eat everyday. Heme iron, which is easiest to absorb, is found in animal foods such as meat, seafood, poultry and eggs. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods like tofu, nuts, seeds and vegetables, particularly in dark leafy vegetables like spinach. It’s important that these foods are taken with vitamin C to ensure proper nutrient absorption(5).
If you are severely anemic, talk to your doctor or naturopath before taking iron supplements. Like anything else, too much iron can be just as bad as too little.
As you increase your iron intake, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away, it can take several weeks for your symptoms to disappear.
- Top 7 Ways to Reduce Fluoride Exposure
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first US city to fluoridate the public water supply. The idea quickly caught …
- When This 17-Year-Old Teen Refused Chemo She Never Imagined Things Would Escalate This Far…
When it comes to medical authorities, human rights apparently don’t exist, especially if you are under the age of 18. Competent …
- Before Committing to Glasses Try Blinking Exercises for Better Vision
After visiting your optician for your latest eye checkup, to be told your vision has worsened slightly, are given the …
- What You Need to Know Before You Reuse That Plastic Water Bottle
In an effort to be responsible and thrifty, you may reuse a plastic water bottle over and over gain. Why …
- Are You Being Overprescribed Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are, by all means, incredibly useful drugs, and they’ve turned what used to be lethal illnesses into mere annoyances (and maybe …
- 10 Things to Avoid To Keep Your Eyes Healthy
There are many things people do that can wreak havoc on their eyesight. From falling asleep with your contact lenses …
- The 5 Best and 5 Worst Foods For Sleep
For many, the secret to getting a good night’s sleep comes down to two things–stress and diet. It’s important to …
- Courts Quietly Confirm MMR Vaccine Causes Autism
After decades of passionate debate, parents probably missed the repeated admissions by drug companies and governments alike that vaccines do …
- 70-Year-Old Man Reveals Secret To Staying Physically and Mentally Fitter Than People Half His Age
Stephen Jepson may be one of the most creative and active people you will ever meet, especially at his age. …
- Cut Your Watermelon THIS Way And Never Have Juice Dripping Down Your Chin Again!
Watermelon isn’t just a healthy snack: it’s a summer staple. Perhaps one of the most popular ways to eat it …
- Aldi Bans Neonicotinoids, Goes Organic, Rivals Whole Foods As Healthiest Grocery Store
Aldi is one of the largest grocery retailers in the world with stores in 18 countries. Founded in Germany in …
- Say Goodbye to Trans Fats
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has recently announced the decision to ban trans fats. This ingredient which was once …
- New Research Finds Cheeseburgers As Bad For You As Smoking
People who are considered ‘middle aged’, which is between the ages of 50-65 years old, that consume a high protein …
- Do You Know Why Exercise Helps Your Heart?
We all hear about how exercise improves heart health, but how exactly does that happen? Let’s take a look at …
- Doctors Have No Explanation: Mix Cinnamon And Honey For Arthritis, Cancer, Gallbladder, Cholesterol And 10 Other Diseases
Honey cinnamon may sound like a donut flavor, but it has much more potential than just satisfying your sweet tooth. …