You probably know that your body can't work properly without oxygen.
The blood contains special red blood cells, responsible for delivery of oxygen to each part of the body. These cells have ability to function normally, only if there is enough of hemoglobin inside them.
Hemoglobin is a substance, made up of protein and iron.
Lack of iron leads to inadequate production of hemoglobin that contributes to iron-deficiency anemia.
It is the most widespread type of anemia, which can stay symptomless for a long time. The reason is that your body has iron reserves to maintain mineral balance and oxygen supply in difficult situations.
Once these stocks are depleted, you may feel extreme constant fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
Other common symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia are brittleness of the nails, chest pain, swelling of the tongue, cold intolerance and weird eating cravings for ice or starch.
Why does iron deficiency occurs? Here are the most common causes:
#1. Insufficient iron intake – you're more likely to have iron-deficiency anemia, if you eat too few of iron-rich foods like meat, leafy greens, beans and eggs. This problem is especially frequent among vegetarians. Remember that if you stay on the plant-based diet, you need to satisfy body's demand of iron, eating fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, lentils, raisins and pumpkin seeds.
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#2. Heavy periods – prolonged or too heavy menstruation, medically called menorrhagia, is one of the most symptoms, which brings women to their ob-gyns. It may be a result of hormonal imbalance (like in polycystic ovary syndrome), uterine fibroids and adenomyosis. When you lose too much blood with menses, your body doesn't have sufficient amount of red blood cells to deliver oxygen to organs as needed.
#3. Celiac disease – this chronic digestive disease affects your body's ability to absorb nutrients from food you eat. Consequently, you may suffer from iron deficiency anemia, even if your diet is full of iron.
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#4. Internal bleeding – everything is simple: if you lose blood, you lose red blood cells and iron at the same time. There is a wide variety of conditions, which can lead to internal bleeding. The most common of them include peptic ulcer, hiatal hernia, colorectal cancer and polyps. Regular consumption of certain painkillers, like aspirin, can be a culprit of gastrointestinal bleeding.
#5. Pregnancy – in pregnant women, amount of blood increases, requiring more iron to create hemoglobin. In addition to this, the growing fetus also needs this chemical to develop normally. That’s why it is recommended for pregnant women and those, who want to conceive, to get special supplements to prevent harmful complications of iron deficiency.
#6. Kidney disease – you kidneys are multifunctional organs, which can not only remove waste products from the body, but also create special hormone erythropoietin to stimulate production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. If your kidneys don't work properly, this process may be disturbed that leads to anemia, particularly in advanced cases.
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