The mineral iron is critical to human life. Not because it has enabled us make tools, cars, and even guns to blow the daylights out of one other, but because we need it inside our bodies to live. Iron is considered a trace mineral in that we need very little of it to be healthy. Iron deficiency is (ironically?) the most common nutrient deficiency in the world.
Iron deficiency, according to the World Health Organization, is the number-one nutrition disorder in the world - affecting approximately 7.8 million women in the U.S. The most common symptoms of iron deficiency are fatigue, weakness, headaches and irritability.
Iron deficiency is more common among women (especially those of childbearing age), athletes, vegetarians and seniors. Before seeking treatment you should be properly diagnosed by your healthcare professional for an iron deficiency. However, once diagnosed, there are ways to help treat and reduce your deficiency.
Increasing iron intake can be as easy as making adjustments to your diet. There are several foods that contain a large amount of iron and can help restore the body's iron level. Some of these foods are:
* Red meat, fish and poultry
* Egg yolk
* Dark, leafy greens
* Beans, lentils, chick peas and soy beans
* Dried fruit
An iron-friendly diet should, in addition, consist of foods high in vitamin C, such as orange juice and tomatoes.
While maintaining a well-balanced diet can help supply the body with iron, sometimes it isn't enough. In cases such as these, an iron supplement is usually recommended. However, up to 47 percent of people who take iron supplements experience one or more side effects, such as nausea or constipation. In some cases, it is bad enough to make them stop their iron treatment altogether. See original story
Iron supplements are often prescribed or recommended for pregnant women. But according to a separate report, taking these supplements daily may not be absolutely necessary, and can help avoid or minimize some of the side effects. Consulting a physician before taking iron supplements or adjusting dosage while pregnant is, needless to say, strongly advised.
In fact, taking iron supplements without a doctor's advice is not recommended even for healthy (or otherwise not pregnant) individuals, as it can interfere with some vitamins, minerals and drugs.
While iron deficiency is a major problem worldwide, too much of it can also cause problems. An iron overload, called hemochromatosis, can damage pancreas, heart, liver and joints, as well as increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.