When Do You Need Extra Iron?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 3:23pm

Are you feeling a bit run down lately? Do your muscles tire quickly during workouts or even your basic household chores? You may want to add an iron supplement to your daily vitamin regimen.

Millions of Americans suffer from iron deficiency and many don't even realize it.

Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia. Symptoms of anemia range from shortness of breath and easy bruising, to mental confusion and an abnormally fast heart rate.

Iron is required to help the body create hemoglobin for red blood cells, and those blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our bodies. Imagine your blood being starved and unable to carry oxygen to your organs and muscles. As you can imagine, this can lead to tired and weak muscles, and organs that are not able to function properly. Knowing what iron does for the body, and how our red blood cells work, will help you understand when and why you should supplement your diet with Iron. Think of red blood cells as the only vehicles in which oxygen is carried.  

In some instances taking an iron supplement is universally recommended. For example, if you are a female who experiences heavy menstrual bleeding, a supplement would work to keep your energy levels up and your blood properly oxygenated. If you are a vegetarian and find yourself not feeling as strong as you did in the past, you are most likely running on depleted iron levels.

If you are not eating a balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods along with foods that promote iron absorption, you could stand to benefit from an iron supplement. 

If you are pregnant, iron is highly recommended and should be discussed with your physician. After your baby is born, continue to keep your iron levels up and discuss your newborn's needs with your doctor, as well. While babies require extra iron during their growth stages, too much iron can make them very ill, so just keep a balanced diet and they should be fine.

Ulcers can lead to blood loss and if you experience symptoms of an ulcer, you should definitely increase your iron intake. As your body loses blood, again, your red blood cells shrink in number and your oxygen levels will decrease. Adding iron will help combat these symptoms and help you feel better while you recover.

One last tip. To make sure your iron supplements are being absorbed, keep your levels of Vitamin C up as well. Take a Vitamin C tablet at meals.  


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