If so, iron deficiency may be the cause. It is the leading nutrient deficiency in Canada and in the world. Iron is required to make hemoglobin in red blood cells that transports oxygen to our tissues, and severe iron deficiency results in anemia.
Signs of iron deficiency anemia include excessive fatigue; decreased appetite; rapid heart rate; shortness of breath; hair loss; cold hands and feet; sore tongue; easy bruising; and brittle or sore nails. Blood tests for iron deficiency reveal a low serum (blood) ferritin (iron-bound protein) and a very low hemoglobin count.
Women in child-bearing years may experience early-stage iron deficiency due to menstruation blood loss. Symptoms include frequent infections such as colds; often feeling cold; recurrent headaches; constant fatigue and new or aggravated bouts of depression. Women with any combination of these symptoms ask the doctor for a blood test.
Up the iron
If blood tests show serum ferritin between 12 and 20 ug/L, choose more iron-rich foods and a supplement to support your iron status. While I don’t recommend red meat or organ meats to patients, dark chicken and turkey meat provide appreciable amounts of heme iron, the most bioavailable form. Additional good non-heme food sources include fortified cereals and bread, beans, tofu, dried fruits, whole grains and green, leafy vegetables like spinach.
Inorganic iron supplements like ferrous sulfate can be constipating and not well absorbed. New chelated iron supplements have iron attached to two glycine amino acid molecules and resemble heme iron found in meat. Studies show that non-constipating chelated iron is four times as bioavailable as inorganic iron supplements, and can raise serum ferritin levels significantly.
In cases of early-stage iron deficiency manage with the above dietary suggestions and choose a supplement containing 45 mg of iron chelate (ferrous bisglycinate chelate) in a formula that also provides other red blood cell and hemoglobin supporting nutrients (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2, folic acid, Vitamin B12, copper). Take two capsules daily until serum ferritin levels are above 20 ug/L, then a maintenance dose of one capsule daily (eg. Adeeva Nature’s Iron)
IRON DEFICIENT ANEMIA
Iron levels below 12 ug/L indicate depletion of the body’s iron stores, which will eventually result in anemia. In these cases taking prescription iron in high doses, as prescribed by your medical doctor, is necessary.