The Essential Role of the Iron for Health
Anemia is the abnormal drop in hemoglobin in the blood. The threshold value below which anemia is reported varies by age and sex.
Among the causes of anemia, an insufficient supply of iron in the diet is common, it is called iron deficiency anemia. According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population is affected by iron deficiency, particularly in developing countries.
Who are the sensitives to iron needs?
Children from 6 months to 5 years old
Pregnant women: growth of the fetus and placenta and increased volume increase iron requirements
People following certain types of strict diets, including vegetarian or vegan
Chronic diseases suffering from a bad absorption of iron by the digestive tract due to a disease affecting the digestive wall, for example Crohn’s disease!
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS ?
There are two types of anemias.
Acute anemias that settle quickly. The cardiovascular system adapts to the lack of tissue oxygenation associated with the sudden drop in hemoglobin levels. They arrive in case of a heavy loss of blood for example.
Acceleration of heart rate: tachycardia
Falling blood pressure that can lead to discomfort
Coldness of extremities: hands and feet
Chronic anemias, usually due to deficiencies. More progressive and slow installation, clinical signs more difficult to identify.
Fatigue, shortness of breath (effort and rest)
Decreased intellectual performance
Other symptoms may be signs of iron deficiency: dry skin, flat brittle nails, mucous membrane atrophy …
A blood test, usually a blood count, in the laboratory makes it possible to establish the diagnosis. Anemia can be detected by three measures: hemoglobin levels, hematocrit levels, red blood cell count. To confirm the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, additional analyzes are performed: transferrin level – protein capable of binding iron, serum iron level and ferritin levels to estimate iron stores.
Iron exists in two forms: the heme iron present in foods of animal origin and the non-heme iron found in foods of plant origin, less well metabolized by the body. That’s why a healthy and varied diet normally provides enough of these two types of iron. Iron-rich foods include: meats, grains, vegetables and legumes. Vigilance is required because some foods can aggravate deficiency: soy, tea and coffee are part of it, for example.
Tea and coffee slow down the absorption of iron by the body
For some subjects, including pregnant women or those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, iron supplementation may be advised by a health professional to avoid the risks of overdose.
There are also medicinal treatments, particularly intravenously reserved for hospital use.
Very often ignored, iron deficiency anemia is however widespread. In general, iron deficiency is easily corrected. The symptoms should not be ignored, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor.
istanbulpost.com.tr health editor