Everything you need to know about iron deficiency – the underrated health hazard

The Asian Age With Agency Inputs

Life, Health

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies prevalent in our country.

According to World Health Organization, iron deficiency affects 2 billion people across the country. (Photo: AFP)

Do you sleep well and yet feel drowsy through the day? Do you eat well and yet feel lethargic? Do your Monday blues spill through the week?

If the answer is yes, the concern may be much deeper than you think it is. Today, our time pressed lives lead us to missing out on our essential daily nutritional intake resulting in numerous deficiencies.

The sad reality is that most of us end up ignoring these signs until they become too severe. If you are of one of those who suffer from the above-mentioned symptoms, maybe it’s time to get your iron checked.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies prevalent in our country.

According to World Health Organization, iron deficiency affects 2 billion people across the country. India tops the list with nearly 55 per cent women and 24 per cent men suffering from iron deficiency.

As per the Indian Recommended Dietary intake, on an average, women need 21 mg of iron in their diet every day and men need 17 mg. Iron is one of the most essential components in our body that helps to create haemoglobin which in turn carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. Therefore, it is extremely essential to keep a check your iron levels.

Essentially, there are three stages to iron deficiency.

The first is iron depletion that occurs when your haemoglobin levels are normal but the level of stored iron in your body is quite low. Chances are that, during this stage you would not notice any symptoms.

The next one is iron deficiency, where the stored iron level is low, and the haemoglobin is also below normal. This is the stage where you would feel lethargic and the fatigue starts setting in.

The final stage, iron deficiency anaemia, is the one in which the level of stored iron is so low that there is not enough oxygen going in your body resulting in weakness, paleness, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold hands and feet, fast or irregular heartbeat, headaches, etc.

Considering the symptoms of iron deficiency are mild, most of the times it tends to go unnoticed till the symptoms become severe. With the constant juggling of roles, it becomes difficult to ensure the consumption of the right amount of iron. Here are some of the ways you can ensure you are never low on your iron:

  • Consumption of iron rich food: Diets that include foods like leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, red meat, fruits, legumes and grains can help treat or prevent iron deficiency. Additionally, Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron
  • Consumption of Fortified Foods: Food giants today are focusing on this need gap with a wide variety of fortified foods to bridge the gaps in urban diets. Fortification helps ensures that additional nutrients are added to food products to ensure the recommended daily allowances of nutrient.  Products like Tropicana Essentials - Iron, are helpful in fulfilling the iron needs in individuals
  • Iron Supplements: These are also helpful in restoring iron levels in your body. It is preferred to 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.
  • Control on Certain Foods -  Reduce the consumption of foods that contain a lot of refined sugar and flour as these inhibit iron absorption
  • Go Green: Ensure that you include 50 g of leafy green vegetables daily to ensure that you maintain healthy levels of iron

It’s time you wake up and pay attention to what you are eating and drinking, because low levels of iron would only lower your productivity. Don’t forget to consult a doctor if you find the symptoms getting severe.

Taking care of your health should be the top most priority and ignorance may not always be blissful.

(The article has been authored by Madhuri Ruia, Iron Expert with Tropicana Essentials.)