Low iron levels can cause a lot of issues in the body and if it’s left untreated, the symptoms can get worse. Luckily, an iron deficiency can be treated and your levels can be boosted naturally.
Iron deficiency is a common form of anemia and affects many people. With this condition, the blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells and without them can’t carry oxygen to the body. Looking out for the signs of iron deficiency will let you know if this condition is affecting you.
Without sufficient iron, your body can’t produce enough of the substance that exists in red blood cells that lets them carry hemoglobin. This hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout your body which every part of you requires.
This condition doesn’t have to be a massive problem as supplementation can help correct it. There are other natural ways you can boost your iron levels though and that’s what this article will look at.
Let’s first look at some neglected symptoms and signs of iron deficiency. The problem is some of these symptoms can be relatively mild and often can go unnoticed. When you learn to recognize the signs, you’ll have a better idea if this might affect you.
You need to be proactive with this and then consult with your doctor for further testing because as the body becomes more deficient in iron the anemia worsens. When this happens, the symptoms become much more intense.
This will be one of the most common signs of low iron in the body. This is where the condition can often be overlooked as most people are feeling tired often. The problem is you can get used to being in this state and chalking it up to poor sleep. In fact, this can be one of the main signs of low iron levels.
If you are feeling tired all the time no matter how much sleep you’re getting, you must investigate this further.
With low levels of iron in your body, you will feel noticeably weaker. Again, there are days where you will feel stronger than others but if you are constantly feeling weak, it could be a sign.
3. Pale Skin
Another telltale sign of those suffering from anemia. The low iron levels in the body result in pale looking skin and an appearance that doesn’t seem healthy. You may have noticed people with this condition stand out quite easily and is one of the physical indicators of an iron deficiency.
4. Chest Pain
The chest area can be impacted a few ways if you’re not getting enough iron. Some chest pain can be common and due to issues with the lungs or even muscle strains between the ribcage. With an iron deficiency, you may experience a varying type of chest pain. We should never ignore any chest pain but in this case, it may be a sign of your low iron levels.
The chest pain may not always be a sign but a faster heartbeat or shortness of breath may be. Your tissues and cells are not receiving enough oxygen and this includes your lungs. This will make breathing shorter and uncomfortable.
5. Cold Extremities
Another condition not necessarily related to iron levels in the body but one to know of. With varying temperature changes cold hands and feet will be common. If they’re cold all the time, it may be a sign of iron deficiency. Circulation problems can also cause cold hands and feet but these are not always related.
Again, when something is continuing to happen over the long-term, it’s important to take notice of it.
6. Cognitive Issues
Every organ in your body requires oxygen to function optimally, and this includes the brain. With low levels of iron, the brain is not getting as much oxygen as it needs. Some symptoms regarding cognitive issues can include headaches that may come and go.
You may also experience dizziness and lightheadedness from the low levels of oxygen. You can see how people might ignore signs of iron deficiency with common things like headaches so it’s important to be aware of all of them.
7. Unusual Cravings
This is a bit of a weird one, but sometimes when your body is low in iron, you can crave some pretty bizarre things. People have been reported to crave things like dirt and starch. Even cravings for ice can be a sign. This may be a long shot, but it is a sensation that can happen.
8. Brittle Nails
There can be various reasons you have brittle nails such as low levels of omega-3, low levels of zinc or inadequate protein intake. Another reason may be because your body is not receiving enough iron. If you’re seeing changes in the quality of your nail health, it could be a sign.
9. Poor Appetite
If you struggle to finish meals, or you’re just not hungry in the first place, it shouldn’t be ignored. A poor appetite because of low iron levels is more likely to affect infants and children but it’s something to keep an eye on. if you don’t find yourself hungry for long stretches at a time, it could be another symptom impacting you.
So, having been brought up to speed with some signs of iron deficiency, how do you make sure that this doesn’t happen in the first place?
Here are three ways to naturally boost your iron levels.
1. Eat Lean Red Meat
This will be at the top of the list as lean red meat is full of heme iron which is rich in hemoglobin. This heme iron is the best form of iron you can find and up to 40% of it is readily available to be absorbed by your body. If you’re consuming animal protein you want to look for the cleanest sources possible.
Choosing pastured grass-fed beef will be much better for your health. These are true organic animals free from hormones and antibiotics. They are eating a natural diet and are full of omega-3 and CLA.
Other top choices to get this heme iron include:
- Halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, and tuna
- Clams, oysters, and mussels
2. Non-Animal Sources of Heme Iron
If you’re avoiding animal products, you can still find a good form of iron in plant-based foods. This will be non-heme iron which is not absorbed as efficiently as heme iron but still can beneficial. This is an easy form of iron to get and they also add it into various foods to fortify them further.
Some of these plant-based choices would include:
- Fortified cereals such as rice, wheat, and oats.
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard
- Dried raisins and apricots
- Lentils, and soybeans
- Baked potatoes
3. Combine The Right Foods
Not only do you need to eat the right foods to boost the iron levels you also need to consume the right foods so that your body absorbs the iron properly. Absorption is the key here as without it being adequate we may waste a lot of this iron. The big thing to start with to make sure you absorb as much iron as possible is to consume foods rich with vitamin C.
This is especially important if you’re not consuming animal products as vitamin C will bind to that non-heme iron and store it in a form that will be more easily absorbed by the body. You’ll want to consume these high vitamin C foods at the same time as the things that contain iron.
You can use a vitamin C supplement, but some of the best natural choices for it include:
- Citrus fruits
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Bell peppers
You also want to consume foods rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Both things will also increase the absorption rates of the iron you are consuming. The best sources of vitamin A and beta-carotene will be:
- Sweet potato
- Red peppers