Are you tired ALL the time? This may be why…

In addition to lifestyle factors like inadequate sleep, poor nutrition and chronic stress which can contribute to feeling tired ALL the time, Iron Deficiency Anemia is a common cause of fatigue that is important to rule out.

Having enough iron will help you feel strong and energetic like this guy:

What is iron-deficiency anemia?

Having low iron levels leads to an inadequate number of red blood cells which are needed to deliver oxygen to your tissues to provide them with energy.

What causes iron-deficiency anemia?

Lack of iron in the diet:

Vegetarians/vegans lack sources of highly-absorbably heme-iron found in animal products

In children, being picky eaters can lead to a decreased consumption of foods containing iron

High intake of cow’s milk in children is also a factor because calcium and iron compete with each other for absorption

Poor absorption of iron due to:

Having low stomach acid

Taking certain medications such as ant-acids which reduce stomach acid

Gastrointestinal surgeries

Bleeding:

Heavy menstrual periods

Stomach ulcers

Hemorrhoids

Frequent blood donations

Increased demands for iron:

Pregnancy

Lactation

What are other symptoms besides tiredness which can indicate iron deficiency anemia?

Pale skin and conjunctiva (the inside of the lower eyelid)

Easy bruising

Dizziness

Difficulty breathing on physical exertion (for example, climbing the stairs)

Some form of blood loss (contributing to the anemia)

Brittle nails

Angular stomatitis (cracks and fissures in the corners of the mouth)

Low blood pressure

Muscle weakness

There may be NO signs and symptoms in early iron-deficiency anemia which is why it is very important to go for regular check-ups with your medical doctor!

This guy does not look like he’s having fun:

The following two blood tests need to be done to confirm a diagnosis of iron-deficiency anemia:

Complete blood count: assesses the health of your red blood cells

Ferritin: assesses the level of iron stored in your body

It is NOT SAFE to take iron supplements until you have confirmed a diagnosis of iron-deficiency anemia.

However, it is SAFE to look at your current diet and try to incorporate more iron-rich food sources into your meals.  This will help prevent iron-deficiency anemia and maintain your iron levels.

Top 10 Foods High in Iron

A more comprehensive list of foods containing iron

Recipes for foods high in iron:

1. http://www.soscuisine.com/en/recipes/search/basic/special-consideration-diet/high-iron?sos_l=en

2. http://www.canadianliving.com/health/prevention/iron_101_all_about_low_iron_levels_iron_deficiency_anemia_and_iron_in_foods_2.php

3. http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/great-recipes.asp?food=food+rich+in+iron

Overall, be sure to eat your leafy green vegetables, especially spinach!

Explore another reason you may be tired ALL the time:

Are you tired ALL the time? Part 2: Hypothyroidism