When we feel tired and weak or a little out of breath upon exertion, we most often do not think of our iron levels as responsible. However, this one mineral can sometimes be the root cause of some unexplained symptoms. Women are more likely to be low in iron during their reproductive years but don't rule out the troubles of a deficiency if you are older and of the opposite sex. Iron deficiency can affect men or women of any age.
Why is Iron so Important?
Iron is required to produce hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Red blood cells via hemoglobin carry oxygen through your cells to every part of your body and organ systems. If your blood cells are not healthy, your body can't produce enough oxygen. And when insufficient amounts of oxygen do not reach your tissues, muscles and organs, including your heart. It will cause your body to work twice as hard. The reduced oxygen also causes you to feel tired, weak, faint, dizzy and short of breath. You may even get headaches or heart palpitations.
Your body also relies on a blood protein, "ferritin," to regulate your blood levels of iron. Ferritin will help store iron in the blood and release iron if concentrations are low. Ferritin is also one of the key markers used in blood tests to determine how much iron your body stores and if you have an iron deficiency.
Did you know your body can store iron for up to 3 years for men but only one year for women? Your body continually loses iron through normal processes such as urination, defecation, sweating, and sloughing off skin cells. Conditions such as menstruation, pregnancy, cancer, surgery, bowel disorders (diverticulitis, polys, IBC, Crohns, ulcerative colitis,) stomach disorders, uterine fibroids may also affect your iron levels. Some groups of people likely to have low iron include vegans and vegetarians, women with heavy periods during pregnancy and breastfeeding and people taking acid-blocking medications for heartburn.
Signs of Symptoms of iron deficiency may include the following:
- Pale skin, especially under the eyes, nails and palms of hands
- Brittle hair
- Nails are thin, brittle, flattened and will become spoon-shaped if deficiency continues
- Pale Mucus membranes, most noticeable when you pull down your lower eyelid
- Fatigue & weakness
- Shortness of breath during exertion
- Increased infections (colds and flu)
- Poor concentration
- Poor sleep
- Sore tongue/canker sores
- Cold hands & feet
- Ringing in head or ears
- Chest pain during exercise
- Restless leg syndrome
- Dry and dull hair
- Cracks at the corners of the mouth
Iron Doesn't have to be Constipating?
Your body only stores approximately 25% of iron for future use, but even this level can get depleted. The rest of your iron requirements must be obtained from your diet. Good dietary sources of iron include red meat, liver, egg yolk, beans, nuts, and fortified cereals.
How well your body absorbs iron depends on the source of iron you consume and how healthy your gut is (you need a healthy gut to absorb iron). Most iron supplements or OTC forms of iron use Ferrous Iron. But there are different forms of 'Ferrous Iron," and which one you choose sets the stage for some of the unwanted side effects such as nausea, bloating, heartburn, abdominal pain, constipation, and black/tarry stools.
Constipation associated with taking some iron supplements is related to the imbalance of gut microbes caused by a particular form of iron. An imbalance in your gut microbes can slow down peristalsis (the movement of feces through the colon), which results in feces staying in the colon longer. This results in more water being absorbed by the colon (causing dryer feces), further resulting in constipation.
When choosing an iron supplement, we suggest that you consider a natural iron supplement such as Salus Floradix Iron Supplement or Salus Floravit Iron Supplement. Both supplements are liquid iron supplements that promote the formation of healthy red blood cells. The iron used in these formulations is called ferrous gluconate, which is effectively absorbed and gentle on our digestion and reduces the unwanted side effects.
Floradix & Floravit Iron supplements also provide vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12. These vitamins work synergistically with iron to promote the formation of healthy red blood cells. In addition, B vitamins are essential for converting oxygen into energy once it has been delivered to our cells.
Floradix & Floravit Iron supplements also contain a combination of nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and herbs that have been carefully selected to improve the digestion and absorption of iron. It is free from alcohol, lactose, and artificial additives and is vegetarian-friendly (Floravit is vegan friendly). Floradix Iron supplements provide the same great formula in tablets.
Both are iron tonics. Floradix is sourced from Iron-fed yeast. It contains some wheat germ and is sweetened with honey Floravit contains no yeast, wheatgerm or honey. It is the ideal choice for those who may have yeast intolerances, candida. or wheatgerm allergies.