5 Signs you have Iron Deficiency


According to WHO, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, approximately affecting 30% of the entire population. Iron is an integral part of your blood hemoglobin. Not having enough iron means your body cannot produce enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. Iron levels are vital for normal blood flow, optimum energy levels and maintaining general health and it’s deficiency can not only increase the risk of internal bleeding and infections but also affect energy and productivity adversely.

Iron deficiency anemia affects young women and teen girls the most as they go through blood loss from menstruation. Pregnant women require the most amount of iron as their developing baby fulfills it’s iron requirements from the mother’s blood.

Iron requirements are not the same for every person. Sources include liver, lentils, spinach, beef, nuts, chicken, chickpeas and many more. Women in their childbearing years i.e. from the ages of 19 and 50, need approximately 18 mg per day. However a pregnant woman will need a whopping amount of 27 mg everyday while a breastfeeding woman will be fine with 9 mg per day. For men and women (who have reached menopause), you only need 8 mg per day.

Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency can differ depending on your age, state of health and the severity of anemia. Some people may not even experience any symptoms at all so it’s important get a routine test done once a year.

Here are 5 hidden signs of iron deficiency to look out for:

Always Tired and Exhausted

A lot of women are so used to feeling tired and fatigued all the time that they may just ignore it and take it as part of their busy life. Although fatigue is a sign of several health problems, if it does not go away even with adequate rest, make sure you get your iron levels checked, because if you still feel lethargic or tired even when under no stress and sleeping well, low iron levels could be the probable cause.

Many studies confirm that fatigue is the most common symptom associated with iron deficiency, affecting more than half of deficient people. When you are deficient in iron, your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin which means inadequate amount of oxygen reaches your tissues and muscles, depriving them of energy.

Lower levels of oxygen in the brain means, you’re going to feel sluggish and dull. According to a research published in the Journal of Nutrition, iron deficiency can have a major effect on your concentration and work productivity. You may also feel weak and cranky. Moreover, your heart has to work harder to circulate more blood around the body, which can make you tired.


An under-oxygenated brain is bound to have frequent headaches. Headache is not a very common symptom of iron deficiency and is often coupled with lightheadedness or dizziness. Lower levels of hemoglobin means less oxygen supplied to the brain, as a result of which, blood vessels in the brain may swell up, creating pressure and headaches.

Headaches can occur due to multiple reasons, but recurrent and frequent headaches along with dizziness can be a serious sign of iron deficiency.

Surprisingly, studies show that too much iron in the body can also cause headaches. An iron overload can also cause migraines. Balancing iron levels is therefore crucial to overall health and iron supplements should be consumed when prescribed by a health professional.


Pale skin could be a sign of many diseases and lack of color in the skin could mean an iron deficiency. Hemoglobin is what gives your skin it’s rosy color. When red blood cells have decreased iron, they reduce in size and become paler in the center hence resulting in paleness. According to a research, pallor or paleness is a much common sign of moderate to severe cases of anemia.

Pallor can happen all over the body, or it can be restricted to specific areas like just the face, gums, inside of the lips or lower eyelids or just the nails, but several studies show that paleness on the inside of the lower eyelids is the most common sign. Infact, this “conjunctival pallor” is also one of the first things doctors look for in a physical exam.

At home, try pulling down the lower eyelid and see if you can notice it. If it looks red, you’re fine but if it’s white or pale, you might have a deficiency and need further testing to confirm.

Hair and Nails

Every organ in your body needs oxygen to function and thrive, and when your hair doesn’t get enough it begins to show signs of damage or loss. Hair loss can be a desperate sign of iron deficiency because it means that now your body has to cut off iron supplies to less important parts of the body like hair, in order to keep other organs healthy. Iron deficiency will show signs of dry damaged hair when it has progressed into full-blown iron deficiency anemia.

Hair loss can also occur due to a number of reasons and it’s normal to lose about 100 strands of hair per day. It is also normal for hair to break and fall out during washing and brushing, but if you are losing clumps of hair and it’s also not growing back, then this might be a sign of iron deficiency.

Severe iron deficiency will affect your nails too. They may become brittle and break a lot. Iron deficiency may even manifest as concave depressions or spoon-shaped fingernails, a condition called koilonychia. It begins with brittleness and later gives a rounded appearance like a spoon. This condition is rare and only occurs in very severe cases.

Shortness of Breath

Reduced oxygen supply by the blood implies you are going to get out of breath even with little physical activity. Hemoglobin holds oxygen in your red blood cells to supply around the body. Lower levels of hemoglobin due to lower levels of iron means less oxygen for your muscles to do normal everyday activities. As a result, your breathing rate rises to provide your body with more oxygen.

Iron deficiency can make you feel all worked up and short of breath with even easy day to day activities, like climbing stairs or carrying a not very heavy object or just taking a long walk.

About the Author: Lisa Brown has been helping her readers in successful business and entrepreneurial strategies for the past 3 years. She currently works with uae.ekuep.com, which is the answer to UAE’s growing restaurant industry. Ekuep is the brand that restaurants, bakeries, cafes, juice bars, and more turn to when they want to stock their kitchens with only the best restaurant equipment.

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