Are you tired? Iron levels may be low

During this time of the semester, college students are probably preparing for winter break. Finals week has arrived on college campuses around the country and students are cramming in study time. It is common for college students to be experiencing fatigue during this time of the semester.

However, if your energy level did not begin to boost after better sleep patterns and lower stress levels, you might need more iron in your body. Iron requirements vary by gender. Males typically need 10 mg of iron per day while females typically need 18 mg.

At least one in every 10 American females, ages 12 to 49 is low in iron. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the nation.

People can be low on iron for a variety of reasons. Low iron levels can be caused from inadequate calorie intake, heavy menstrual cycles, chronic illnesses or internal bleeding.

At first, symptoms of low iron may go unnoticed. After a while, the impact of low iron will begin to affect your daily life. Vegetarians and vegans, in particular, have to keep a constant eye on their iron levels.

Their bodies do not absorb iron well, which leads to deficiency over time. It is crucial for vegetarians and pregnant females to eat foods that are rich in Vitamin C. It increases the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.

Iron is an essential nutrient, because it is used in every single cell in your body. The iron in your blood cells is responsible for carrying oxygen to your muscles and vital organs. It is stored in your bone marrow and liver so your body can replace it when it gets low.

If your body is not getting enough iron in your diet, this will affect your blood’s ability to make new red blood cells and deliver oxygen. As a result, you may develop iron deficiency anemia causing a pale complexion and lethargy. Symptoms that accompany anemia are fatigue, hair loss, dizziness, headaches and chest pain.

Food has two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron.

Heme iron is the most readily absorbed from your stomach and can be found in meat, fish and poultry. Non-heme iron is not absorbed as completely as heme iron.

Non-heme iron can be found in leafy foods. Foods high in Vitamin C, like tomatoes, citrus fruits and red, yellow and orange peppers can help with the absorption of non-heme iron.

Depending on what caused the deficiency and the severity of it, most doctors may recommend lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise. Most doctors will also encourage college students to take a multivitamin containing iron.

Those who have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia may need to take an extra iron supplement; however, it is important to consult with your doctor before taking an extra dose.

Too much iron can also cause negative effects, such as constipation, nausea and vomiting.

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