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06 Giu
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Iron deficiency: causes and complications

Iron deficiency can generate many complications for the well-being of our body. Anemia, for example, is the most common consequence of iron deficiency, which involves a decrease in red blood cells in the blood and limits the blood’s ability to oxygenate the body’s organs and tissues.

During pregnancy, iron deficiency can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. To prevent these problems, it is essential to maintain a healthy, balanced diet rich in iron and other essential nutrients for our bodies. In case of symptoms or suspected iron deficiency, it is essential to consult your primary care physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Main causes of iron carena:

  • Iron-private anemia
  • Hemorrhage
  • Menstrual bleeding
  • Difficulty absorbing iron
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Medications:
    • Antacids
    • Statins
  • Diet
    • Vegetarian diet
    • Do-it-yourself diets

Iron deficiency anemia (Iron-deficient anemia)

Iron-deficiency anemia is a very common problem that can develop gradually as a result of a decrease in iron stores in our bodies. Iron is an essential element for the production of red blood cells, and its deficiency can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and pale skin.

Although iron deficiency can be caused by multiple factors, bleeding is the most common cause in adults, while in the case of pre-menopausal women, menstrual bleeding is the main culprit.

The diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia is based on the measurement of iron levels in the blood, which are reduced in cases of iron deficiency. However, the most reliable parameter for confirming an iron deficiency is measuring the blood level of ferritin.

Although the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia can be alleviated by taking iron supplements, it is important to identify the underlying cause to prevent a recurrence. Risk factors for this form of anemia include an iron-deficient diet, certain chronic conditions, and taking medications that interfere with iron absorption.

If you have symptoms due to a possible iron deficiency, it is important to see your doctor for proper diagnosis and timely treatment that can prevent possible complications and improve your quality of life.

What conditions make it difficult for the body to absorb iron?

There can be multiple reasons why the body does not absorb iron adequately. Although iron is essential for the normal functioning of our bodies, its metabolism can be hindered by certain factors. Among them are autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, which can damage the intestinal mucosa preventing iron absorption. In addition, excess calcium, zinc, and copper can limit iron absorption and cause deficiencies.
Certain medications, such as antacids or statins, can also adversely affect our body’s ability to absorb iron. Vegetarian and vegan diets can also increase the risk of iron deficiency, as animal foods are the main source of easily absorbed iron.
Although our bodies can adapt to short-term iron deficiency, iron intake can become crucial to prevent forms of sideropenic anemia. In this case, iron supplementation may be the solution to overcome the deficiency, but it is important to take it under medical supervision to avoid unwanted effects and overdose.

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?

Recognizing the symptoms of iron deficiency is important to prevent the situation from worsening and to identify possible underlying causes.

The main symptoms of an iron deficiency are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased cognitive abilities
  • Problems with thermoregulation

Iron deficiency can also cause the appearance of other symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Pallor of the skin
  • Fragility of nails and hair
  • Decreased immune defenses
  • Increased susceptibility to infection

Vegan or vegetarian diet: What should I do to increase my iron intake?

If you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, it can be difficult to get enough iron through food. However, there are several non-meat options you can consider to increase your iron intake, such as beans, tofu, nuts, and dark leafy vegetables. Also, looking for iron-fortified breads and cereals may be a solution.
If you find it difficult to get enough iron through food, ask your health care provider if an iron supplement might help. Your doctor can recommend the most appropriate iron supplements for your individual needs without overloading you with iron. With the right amount of iron, you can maintain a healthy balance in your vegan or vegetarian diet and support your long-term health

Learn more by checking out the latest scientific research on PubMed

This article was originally written in Italian and translated English via deepl.com. If you notice a major error in the translation you can write to [email protected] to report it. Your contribution will be greatly appreciated

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