Red beet contains iron and helps against iron deficiency

Sebastian Grimm | 06.08.2021

Iron deficiency and the symptoms

How to counteract a deficiency

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is not uncommon: it affects about one third of the world’s population. The condition, also known as sideropenia, can be eliminated by simple means. Since the human body cannot produce iron itself, the trace element must be ingested through food. Here you can learn everything about iron deficiency, the symptoms of iron deficiency and how to counteract it.


What is iron deficiency?

When the blood contains too little iron, an iron deficiency occurs. This can affect the body in a variety of ways. Iron is required for a variety of biochemical processes in the body. If the trace element is not present in sufficient quantities, symptoms of iron deficiency appear after a certain time.


Around two to four grams of iron are contained in a healthy human body. Around 60 percent is bound to the red blood cells, while the rest is accounted for by various proteins and enzymes. The liver, spleen and bone marrow are the most important iron stores in the human body. From here, the iron is transported into the blood with the help of the transport protein transferrin. We lose around one to two milligrams of iron every day. In a balanced diet, this loss is made up for by the consumption of iron-containing foods. However, it often happens that the loss of iron is greater than the intake, and iron deficiency sets in as a result.


These are the symptoms of iron deficiency

The tricky thing about iron deficiency is that a mild deficiency often goes undetected. Sufferers may feel tired and fatigued, but never think that they might be lacking iron. The most common symptoms of iron deficiency include:


– Fatigue
– Paleness
– Concentration problems
– Brittle fingernails
– Dizziness
– Shortness of breath


If you suspect an iron deficiency, you should contact your primary care physician. A quick test will reveal if you are indeed iron deficient. Your doctor will prescribe an iron supplement or give you tips on how to improve your iron levels. Even less complicated is an iron supplement as a dietary supplement such as from us at Nature Basics. With us even from a natural source and without the risk of overdose.


What are the causes of iron deficiency?

The causes of iron deficiency are different. In most cases, the reason is insufficient intake of iron through food or bleeding. The latter mainly affects women who have heavy menstrual bleeding. In addition, vegetarians and vegans are also affected more often than average. Although plant foods contain iron, they do not ensure optimal absorption, as is the case with foods of animal origin. In general, the bioavailability of iron is far from optimal: according to studies, only 10 to 15 percent of the iron ingested with food is bioavailable. Meat, liver and eggs fare best. Accordingly, supplementation in the form of dietary supplements makes sense, since probably only a fraction of it can be effectively absorbed by the body anyway.


Types of iron

In biochemistry, a distinction is made between two different types of iron. The so-called bivalent iron (also called Fe2+ or heme iron) is found exclusively in animal products and has a bioavailability of about 30 percent. The so-called trivalent iron (also known as Fe3+ or non-heme iron) is found in plant foods and is only 2 to 20 percent bioavailable. Because of the difference in bioavailability, it was long assumed that a vegan or vegetarian diet must necessarily lead to iron deficiency. While it is indeed the case that vegans and vegetarians suffer from iron deficiency more often than omnivores, this is mainly due to an incorrect diet. Even if you eat only plant-based foods, you can still get enough iron from your diet.


What can be done about iron deficiency?

First, you should undergo an examination to rule out other possible causes. If the suspicion is confirmed, it is time to act. You can choose from several treatment strategies. You can buy an iron preparation in the pharmacy, usually somewhat more expensive and artificially produced. However, such preparations are often not without side effects. Since iron tablets irritate the gastrointestinal tract, you should never take them on an empty stomach.


It is not uncommon to experience constipation or nausea when taking iron supplements. If these side effects persist for a long time, it is best to consult your doctor. If the side effects are very severe, the doctor may give you an infusion instead. This allows the iron to go directly into the blood and bypass the stomach. The alternative we offer at Nature Basics is to take bound iron from curry leaf. Our idea: to be able to take natural iron and still in sufficient concentration.


What is the best thing to eat when iron is deficient?

The most ideal and also healthiest way to counteract your iron deficiency is to eat the right foods. Meat is an excellent source of iron, followed by liver and fish, which also contain natural iron. However, it is more difficult to get an adequate amount of iron here on a daily basis. Vegetarians and vegans also have a wide variety of iron-rich foods to choose from. Here is a list of plant-based foods that are high in iron:


– Whole grains
– Yeast flakes
– Soy
– Legumes
– Beet
– Dark berries
– Spinach, cabbage, broccoli
– Dried apricots
– Nuts


As you can see, it’s basically easy to eat foods that contain iron. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a daily amount of 10 to 15 milligrams of iron for adults. However, since it remains a challenge to reach this amount daily and the body can only really utilize a fraction of the ingested iron (bioavailability), dietary supplementation remains a sensible alternative. By the way, you can also find fruit juices enriched with iron in almost every supermarket.


What consequences can an iron deficiency have?

The symptoms already described are identical to the consequences of an iron deficiency. But a pronounced iron deficiency can also have dangerous consequences. For example, susceptibility to infections of all kinds increases. Performance deteriorates, and those affected find it difficult to perform their work. For women, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) can occur. Anemia may develop as a result of iron deficiency. In addition, some physicians claim that there may be a link between iron deficiency and depression. In the case of iron deficiency anemia, the oxygen supply to the body cells is impaired, and dizziness may occur.


Is there a risk of overdose?

As Paracelsus said, the dose makes the poison. This also applies to iron, because too large quantities of the trace element is also associated with unpleasant effects. According to researchers, heme iron in particular, which is contained in meat and other animal products, could pose a health risk. It is suspected that there may be a link between heme iron and colon cancer. In addition, elevated iron levels are generally considered a cancer risk.

Paradoxically, too much iron in the blood can increase susceptibility to infection. As you can see, it is all about the right dosage, which should neither be greatly exceeded nor fallen short of. Therefore, it is advisable to regulate iron intake naturally, without resorting to high doses of artificial drugs.

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