Iron is a very important mineral that your body uses for many of its functions, including the production of hemoglobin, which are the molecules in your blood that help to transport oxygen. If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your muscles and tissues won’t get enough oxygen to function like they should.
If you do have low amounts of iron in your body — or an iron deficiency — it can lead to a condition called anemia. Symptoms of anemia can vary depending on how quickly it develops, how old you are, and what other health conditions you have. In some cases, people experience no symptoms at all.
At Clover Internal Medicine Associates, our team wants you to understand that iron deficiency is common and can happen to anyone. However, it’s good to know what can put you at risk for low iron. We also want to inform you on how to try and avoid iron deficiency — and how to treat it should you experience low iron levels.
Understanding iron deficiency
Iron deficiency is a common condition and affects 2% of men, 9-12% of white women, and nearly 20% of Black and Mexican-American women. Having a diet that’s low in iron can put you at high risk for developing an iron deficiency and anemia.
These other factors can also increase your chances of low iron levels:
- Undergoing major surgery or physical trauma
- Being pregnant or breastfeeding
- Having a gastrointestinal condition such as celiac disease
- Being a vegetarian or consuming large amounts of cow’s milk
In addition, if you donate blood regularly, it can also increase your risk for iron deficiency.
Some symptoms to watch out for that can signal you have low iron include the following:
- Unusual tiredness
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Restless legs
- Brittle hair and nails
You may also feel depressed, have unusual cravings and a poor appetite, or get more frequent infections.
Treating iron deficiency
If you do think you have an iron deficiency, it’s important to talk with your doctor in order to have it properly diagnosed. After your provider confirms that you have an iron deficiency through blood tests, you can come up with a treatment plan that works best for you. The point of these treatment plans is to boost your hemoglobin levels and restore your iron stores to where they need to be.
These are some common treatment options for low iron levels:
If your iron deficiency is caused by a lack of iron in your diet, you can try to start adding some iron-rich foods to your diet such as red meat, organ meats, dark leafy greens, dried fruit, seafood, or iron fortified breakfast cereals.
You can also lower your amount of calcium intake, since calcium can limit how much iron your body absorbs.
Another great way to boost your iron levels is to take iron supplements. Make sure you talk with your doctor before taking these, but supplements are a great way to restore iron levels if changing your diet alone isn’t doing quite enough.
IV iron therapy
IV therapy can give you much-needed nutrients quickly and effectively by bypassing your digestive tract. If you’re deficient in iron and need the effects of this mineral instantly, getting iron through IV therapy is a great option.
To learn more about iron deficiency and how we can help with your iron levels, don’t hesitate to contact our team for more information. To schedule an appointment at our office located in Fort Worth, Texas, you can give us a call at 682-708-0982 or use our online booking tool today.