WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A LACK OF IRON ?
For its proper functioning, the body needs nutrients in a balanced way to support its general well-being. Our daily activities deplete our body’s reserves; in order to avoid an imbalance that could lead to complications, we must provide it with sufficient nutrients to compensate for the losses.
Indeed, the decrease in certain elements in the body can lead to their deficiency. A deficiency is an imbalance in the intake of macronutrients and micronutrients.
This imbalance can be due to an illness, a bad diet,… It can attack the undernourished individuals as well as those overweight. Deficiencies lead to more or less serious complications on health and well-being.
Iron is a very important element in the proper functioning of the metabolism. Indeed, it is involved in the constitution of hemoglobin and myoglobin.
Hemoglobin is a compound of red blood cells. It is responsible for transporting respiratory gases (oxygen, carbon dioxide). Myoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that works in muscles.
Iron deficiency is more common in premenopausal women, adolescents, babies (especially non-breastfed babies). It is also present in other segments of the population (the elderly, adults, children).
Iron deficiency causes several complications, the best known of which is anemia.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Since iron is essential for the body, its deficiency will not go unnoticed. The body will react through the manifestation of certain symptoms to signal this deficit.
Let’s find out about the most common symptoms:
- Unusual fatigue: Iron is used by the body for the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen. In the case of a decrease in the iron level, there will be a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin; this will cause a decrease in the level of oxygen in the muscles resulting in a decrease in muscle energy. The heart is also called upon to function more than normal. All these phenomena induce fatigue.
- Pallor: pallor is observed in the skin, eyelids and palm of the hand. This is because it is hemoglobin that gives the blood the red color. Thus, its decrease due to an iron deficiency, will lead to the reduction of the red color of the blood leaving a pallor appear.
- Shortness of breath: hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen. A low level of hemoglobin will cause insufficient oxygen in the organs. The body will increase the respiratory rate in order to compensate for this deficit. Which will cause shortness of breath.
- Headaches and dizziness: the decrease in hemoglobin caused by iron deficiency will induce an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain. As a result, the cerebral blood vessels will swell and cause tension. Which will cause headaches and dizziness.
- Heart palpitations: the direct consequence of iron deficiency being a decrease in hemoglobin levels, oxygen transport will be disrupted. The heart will have to work harder in order to supply oxygen to the organs. This can cause an irregular heartbeat and a feeling of the heart beating too fast. In severe cases, it can lead to an increase in the size of the heart and heart failure.
- Damage to hair and nails: the decrease in the level of oxygen in the body caused by a hemoglobin deficiency (consequence of an iron deficiency), will lead the body to favor the main functions (brain, heart, lungs, etc.), leaving aside parts such as hair and nails. The hair becomes more brittle and the nails are damaged. These symptoms often appear in severe cases.
- Swelling and pain of the tongue: iron deficiency will induce a decrease in myoglobin. This protein acts in muscles including the tongue. So its deficit causes swelling of the tongue accompanied by pain.
- Repeated infections: iron is involved in the proper functioning of the body’s immune system. Its deficiency will lead to a decrease in the body’s resistance, leaving room for repeated infections.
Iron deficiency and weight gain
The variation in weight depends on several factors such as diet, sex, genetic factors, etc. The presence of iron also acts on the variation of the weight. Indeed, iron is involved in the transport of oxygen, in the production of ATP (energy source of the cell). When there is an iron deficiency, cells lack oxygen and energy which causes their activity to slow down. The cells are therefore less efficient which makes weight loss difficult.
Lack of iron and joint pain
When iron is not absorbed, apart from deficiency in the body, its accumulation is toxic and causes joint pain and edema in the lower limbs.
Lack of iron and symptoms on the legs and eyes
Lack of iron leads to a phenomenon called “restless leg syndrome”. It is an incessant need to move the lower limbs with the presence of tingling, itching.
In the eyes, iron deficiency causes paleness of the eyelids and conjunctivae.
The consequences of iron deficiency
Iron deficiency is not without consequences on the body. Thus, it can lead to anemia, decreased resistance to pathogens, weight gain, joint pain, restless legs syndrome as mentioned above.
Getting iron in the body is something to watch out for in our diet. Because its deficiency has more or less serious consequences. To avoid iron deficiency, we must introduce in our diet foods rich in iron, red meat, molluscs, green vegetables, cereals, legumes, fruits rich in iron.
A balanced diet can prevent many health problems such as deficiencies in essential elements.
There is the possibility of taking food supplements:
When should I take an iron supplement and how often?