Time to iron up!

Take note Iron deficiency is an underrated health hazard.

Do you sleep well and yet feel drowsy through the day? Do you eat well and but still feel lethargic? Do your Monday blues spill through the week? If the answer is yes, the concern may be much deeper than you think it is.

Today, our time-pressed lives cause us to miss out on our essential nutritional intakes, resulting in numerous deficiencies. The sad reality is that most of us end up ignoring these signs until they become too severe. If you are of one of those who suffers from the above-mentioned symptoms, maybe it’s time to get your iron levels checked.

Essential requirement

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies prevalent in our country. According to WHO, iron deficiency affects two billion people across the country. India tops the list with nearly 55% of women and 24% of men suffering from the condition. As per the Indian Recommended Dietary intake, on an average, women need 21 mg of iron in their diet every day and men need 17 mg. Iron is one of the most components in our body that creates haemoglobin, which in turn carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body.

Essentially, there are three stages of iron deficiency. The first is iron depletion that occurs when your haemoglobin levels are normal but the level of stored iron in your body is quite low. Here, you probably won’t notice any symptoms. The next one is iron deficiency, where the stored iron level is low, and the haemoglobin is also below normal. This is the stage where you
would feel lethargic and the fatigue starts setting in. The final stage, iron deficiency anaemia, is the one in which the level of stored iron is so low that there is not enough oxygen going in your body resulting in weakness, paleness, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold hands and feet, fast or irregular heartbeat, headaches, etc.

Considering the symptoms of iron deficiency are mild, most of the times it tends to go unnoticed until the symptoms become severe.

Here are some of the ways you can ensure you are never low on your iron:

  • Consume iron-rich food: Your diet needs to include leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, red meat, fruits, legumes and grains can help treat or prevent iron deficiency. Additionally, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.
  • Consume fortified foods: Food giants today are focusing on this need gap with a wide variety of fortified foods to bridge the gaps in urban diets. Fortification ensures that additional nutrients are added to food products to reach the recommended daily allowances of nutrient.
  • Iron supplements: These are also helpful in restoring iron levels in your body. It is best to take iron tablets on an empty stomach, as this helps the body to absorb them better. If they upset your stomach, you can take them with meals.
  • Limit certain foods: Reduce the intake of foods that contain a refined sugar and flour as these inhibit iron absorption.
  • It’s time you wake up and pay attention to what you are eating and drinking because low levels of iron would only lower your productivity. Don’t forget to consult a doctor if you find the symptoms getting severe.

(The author is iron expert, Tropicana)

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Time to iron up!

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