The Greek word anaimia literally means “without blood.” Iron deficiency anemia is when your body lacks iron to make a certain protein in the blood. This protein is known as hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells and is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Low iron levels can have an impact on work performance, judgment and the ability to focus. It can delay development in infants and children, and may lead to complications for women after giving birth. Low iron can also weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness and infection.
One of the most common complaints from people with iron deficiency is fatigue. Other classic symptoms include frequent headaches, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat and loss of consciousness. Feeling cold all the time, and having spoon-shaped fingernails that curve inward, can also point to iron deficiency.
The risk of iron deficiency anemia increases when there is a loss of blood, such as for women during menstruation. Internal blood loss can also be a side effect of some medications. Those living with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis are at higher risk because of difficulty absorbing iron.
Increased demands on the body can also increase the risk for iron deficiency. This is the case for pregnant women, children experiencing growth spurts and athletes engaging in intense exercise. Finally, a diet that contains insufficient iron can lead to a deficiency. This can be caused by iron being less readily absorbed, such as in vegan or vegetarian diets that rely on plant-based iron sources.
Source: the globeand mail