A deficiency in iron typically causes feelings of fatigue, low mood, and mental sluggishness.
It is important to remember that these symptoms don’t always indicate low iron levels and, if you haven’t already, it is a good idea to have a blood test to confirm your ferritin and serum iron levels.
The reason why it is important to test for a deficiency first is because iron is an oxidising agent within the body and excess iron increases the risk of heart disease.
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There is also a metabolic disorder called haemochromatosis, where iron accumulates in the body and is deposited in the organs leading to issues such as heart abnormalities, diabetes, and cirrhosis of the liver.
One third of the Irish population carry the genes for haemochromatosis, so it is important to rule this out.
The commonly prescribed form of iron (ferrous sulphate tablets) is notorious for causing constipation, particularly when taken in doses over 100mg daily.
There are a couple of things you can do to help your body absorb iron, and to reduce the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress.
The first step is to increase your consumption of foods that are high in iron, such as red meats, shellfish and seafood, dried fruits, and leafy greens.
Vitamin C helps with absorption — you will need to take around 500mg with your iron supplement.
Natural supplements with supportive herbs, like Floradix and Floravital products, work well for most people without causing constipation. Spatone is another natural iron supplement I recommend.