Iron-rich foods  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Listen to your body. It tells when you are low on iron and have a worrisome low level of Haemoglobin.
- Your skin may seem yellow, you may feel fatigued easily, and shortness of breath could occur.
- You must not self-diagnose, or self-medicate. But take these as warning signs and reach out to a doctor.
Our body needs all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in the correct proportion. One nutrient that is easy to acquire through food but deficient in most Indians is Iron.
Iron deficiency anaemia (also spelt as anemia) is when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Why do we require iron? You need iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps your red blood cells carry oxygen.
Red blood cells are rich in oxygen that is acquired and absorbed from our lungs. These RBCs take this oxygen to the rest of our body. Every cell in our body needs enough oxygen that it gets from the blood. When there is not enough oxygen, we feel tired, weak, and short of breath.
When our body lacks the iron that is so vital to make the hemoglobin, a protein that helps your red blood cells carry oxygen, naturally the RBCs cannot absorb enough O2 from the lungs.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia:
Mild iron deficiency anemia often isn’t noticeable. When it gets more severe, you may have some or all of these symptoms:
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest pain, muscle ache
- Cold hands and feet, extremities like ears, nose etc
- Brittle, cracked nails, spoon-shaped nails, hairfall
- Cracks near the side of your mouth
- Sore and swollen tongue
- Restless legs syndrome (an urge to move your legs while you’re in bed)
What happens if iron deficiency anaemia is untreated:
- Various illnesses can strike as your immunity dips.
- One can suffer from depression.
- The immune system gets weakened.
- The risk of infection is elevated.
- Pregnant women can suffer preterm delivery.
- Babies can be born with low-birth-weight.
- A low count of red blood cells puts more pumping strain on the heart and a person can suffer heart problems.
- The low iron count can cause delay developmental milestones in children.
Your doctor might run a few blood tests to find out why your iron is low. Your doctor will recommend a dose based on your iron levels. Taking vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.
Usually, doctors treat iron deficiency anemia with supplements. Once your iron levels go up, you should start to feel better. Do not self-medicate or increase or decrease the dose on your own. You might need to take iron supplements for a few months or more to get your levels to normal. Iron supplements can cause various reactions in some people. They range from constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, to dark-coloured poop.
Apart from supplements, you can enrich the iron levels in your blood by eating right. The ones in this food list (such as dry fruits, peas, etc) that you can eat raw, you must try and eat it that way so that the iron loss is minimal. Meat, poultry, etc will naturally have to be cooked well.
Foods with high iron-content:
- Chicken, turkey, duck, and shellfish
- Red meat, pork, and poultry
- Dark, leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach, kale
- Peas, and beans of all kinds
- Iron-fortified cereals and other grains
- Dried fruits, such as peaches, prunes, apricots, figs, and raisins
- Seafood like shellfish, clams, oysters, and mussels
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.