What is Iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency is the most commonly seen nutritional deficiency and also a leading cause of Anemia. It is the condition which results from short of iron in the body.
What are the causes of iron deficiency?
There are two main causes of iron deficiency
1. Increased iron needs – In infants and toddlers due to growing age, pregnant women
Increased blood loss due to menstruation, some stomach and intestinal conditions, frequent blood donation
2. Decreased iron intake and absorption
Who are at risk of iron deficiency?
- In general, adolescent girls and women of child bearing age are at greater risk of iron deficiency as women lose blood during menstruation particularly if the menstrual periods are heavy.
- Pregnant women also are at higher risk of it, because they require two times more iron than usual. The extra iron is needed for foetal growth and increased blood volume.
- Iron is essential for infants and children because of rapid growth and development and higher iron needs. Low birth weight babies or those born prematurely are at risk of iron deficiency.
- Infants after the age of six months who are not being given plain, iron fortified cereal or any other good source of iron can get iron deficiency.
- Young children who drink lots of cow’s milk may be at the risk, as milk is low in iron and too much milk can take place of iron rich foods in the diet. Excess milk can reduce the body’s absorption of iron from other foods.
- People with gastrointestinal disorders like peptic ulcer disease, haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome as Ulcerative colitis, celiac disease
- Adults who get internal bleeding like intestinal bleeding or condition such as colon cancer, bleeding ulcers can cause significant blood loss leading to iron deficiency.
- Vegetarians or other people who do not include meat, fish or other iron rich foods like fortified cereals, pulses, beans, green leafy vegetables in their diet
- People who have undergone major surgery like gastric bypass or those on dialysis or who had major physical trauma are also at risk of iron deficiency.
- Excessive intake of antacids can reduce the absorption of iron. Medicines such as aspirin can cause internal bleeding.
- Frequent blood donors may be at higher risk of iron deficiency as blood donation can deplete iron stores.
How I can prevent myself from iron deficiency?
You can prevent yourself from iron deficiency if you take healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, eggs, lean meat, fish and nuts. In addition you can also have foods that are rich in Vitamin C in your meal, as vitamin C improves the iron absorption.
It is very important to diagnose the cause of iron deficiency by a healthcare provider. Treatment depends on the various factors like age, health and cause of iron deficiency. Treatment may include iron supplements or diet rich in iron.
Always consult your healthcare provide if you find, you have iron deficiency. Your healthcare provider’s recommendations will be specific to your needs.
Check out Balanced Free Diet Plan for Anemia