Last week I had my annual checkup at the doctor, and I got some of the results back yesterday... I have a severe iron deficiency. Yes, I'm anemic and it's the worst it's ever been. I've been anemic in the past due to the gastric bypass, and have had issues of trying to bring my numbers up to par. I try and take iron pills, but noticed that my body doesn't really absorb them like they should. My doctor is introducing me to a different kind of iron supplement... FeraMAX. It's a powdered water soluble Polysaccharide-iron complex... basically it tastes like grape juice crystals.
So What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Anemia is when you have a level of red blood cells in your blood that is lower than normal. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia, and it happens when your body doesn't have enough of the mineral iron. The body needs iron in order to make a protein called hemoglobin. This is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, which is essential for your tissues and muscles to function properly. If there isn't enough iron in your blood stream, the rest of your body can't get the amount of oxygen that it needs.
Even though the condition is quite common, many people don't realise that they have the deficiency. It's possible to experience the symptoms for years before knowing the cause.
When woman are at the childbearing age, it's very common to have iron deficiency anemia. The most common cause is a loss of iron in the blood due to heavy menstruation or pregnancy. A poor diet as well as some intestinal diseases, can affect how the body absorbs the iron, which can also cause the deficiency. Doctors will normally treat the condition with iron supplements, and/or changes to the diet.
What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Inadequate Iron Intake
Eating too little iron over an extended amount of time can cause a shortage in your body. Foods such as meat, eggs, and some green leafy vegetables are high in iron. Because iron is essential during times of rapid growth and development, pregnant women and young children may need even more iron-rich foods in their diet
Pregnancy or Blood Loss Due to Menstruation
In women of childbearing age, the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia are heavy menstrual bleeding and blood loss during childbirth.
Certain medical conditions can cause internal bleeding, which can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Examples include an ulcer in your stomach, polyps (tissue growths) in the colon or intestines, or colon cancer. Regular use of pain relievers, such as aspirin, can also cause bleeding in the stomach.
Inability to Absorb Iron
Certain disorders or surgeries that affect the intestines can also interfere with how your body absorbs iron. Even if you get enough iron in your diet, celiac disease or intestinal surgery, such as gastric bypass, may limit the amount of iron your body can absorb.
What Are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia?
The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia can be very mild at first, and you may not even notice them. According to the American Society of Hematology (ASH), most people don’t realize they have mild anemia until they have a routine blood test. The symptoms of moderate to severe iron deficiency anemia include:
- general fatigue
- pale skin
- shortness of breath
- strange cravings to eat items that aren’t food, such as dirt, ice, or clay
- a tingling or crawling feeling in the legs
- tongue swelling or soreness
- cold hands and feet
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- brittle nails
How Is Iron Deficiency Anemia Treated?
Iron tablets can help restore iron levels in your body. If possible, you should take iron tablets on an empty stomach, which helps the body absorb them better. If they upset your stomach, you can take them with meals. You may need to take the supplements for several months. Iron supplements may cause constipation or stools that are black in color.
Diets high that include the following foods can help treat or prevent iron deficiency:
- red meat
- dark green, leafy vegetables
- dried fruits
- iron-fortified cereals
- Additionally, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. If you’re taking iron tablets, a doctor might suggest taking the tablets along with a source of vitamin C, like a glass of orange juice or citrus fruit.
Foods high in iron include:
- meat, such as lamb, pork, chicken, and beef
- pumpkin and squash seeds
- leafy greens, such as spinach
- raisins and other dried fruit
- seafood, such as clams, sardines, shrimp, and oysters
- iron-fortified dry and instant cereals
Foods high in vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, kiwis, guavas, papayas, pineapples, melons, and mangoes
- red and green bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- leafy greens
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