Common Symptoms of Iron Deficiency and Foods To Help Fight It

Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin,1 a protein that helps build red blood cells. These blood cells are responsible for delivering oxygen through the bloodstream to all your tissues, organs, and muscles.

When you don't have enough iron in your body to make hemoglobin, your cells are effectively deprived of oxygen. This can leave you feeling weak, dizzy, and fatigued, a condition known as iron deficiency anemia. 2

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the US and is the leading cause of anemia.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include:

  • Fatigue 
  • Pale skin and fingernails 
  • Weakness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Headache 
  • Glossitis (inflamed tongue)

Those at highest risk for iron deficiency include:

Pregnant Women : The increased blood volume during pregnancy requires more iron to deliver oxygen to the growing fetus and mom's reproductive organs. Consult your doctor or registered dietitian before starting an iron supplement.

Young Children: Babies store enough iron for the first six months of their life, but then their iron needs increase. Breast milk and iron-fortified infant formula can help supply iron needs not met by solids.

When children consume too much milk, they can actually crowd out other foods in their diet and develop "milk anemia." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 3no cow's milk for children until after one year, and then no more than 4 cups per day.

Adolescent Girls: Rapid growth, combined with often inconsistent or restricted diets, can put young teen girls at risk of iron deficiency.

Menstruating Women: Women who experience heavy or prolonged periods may develop iron deficiency.

The best way to prevent iron deficiency is to eat a healthy diet complete with good iron sources.

Some of the best animal sources of iron include:

  • Lean beef 
  • Oysters 
  • Chicken 
  • Turkey

Some of the best plant sources of iron include:

  • Beans and lentils 
  • Tofu 
  • Baked potatoes 
  • Cashews 
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach 
  • Fortified breakfast cereals 
  • Whole-grain and enriched breads

Adding vitamin C to your diet will help enhance iron absorption. For vegetarians, it's best to combine sources of iron and vitamin C in the same meal, such as a bell pepper-bean salad, spinach with lemon juice, or fortified cereal and berries.

If you are low in iron, our NATURELO Iron with Vitamin C supplement can help restore healthy blood iron levels.