How to recognize symptoms of iron deficiency

Written by denise stern
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How can you tell if you're not getting enough iron? Sometimes, you can be deficient in a vital vitamin or mineral and not even be aware of it. However, an iron deficiency, sometimes called iron-deficiency anaemia, can lead to serious problems. Learning how to recognise symptoms of iron deficiency can help you avoid such issues as developmental growth or heart problems. Iron deficiency anaemia can be caused by inadequate nutritional intake, which doesn't supply the red blood cells necessary for life with enough iron to function properly. This type of deficiency can affect all ages of males or females, but is more commonly found in women of childbearing age.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Pay attention to any ongoing feelings of fatigue or weakness. This may be one of the first noticeable symptoms of an iron deficiency, because the red blood cells that are necessary for strength and energy are fewer in number due to inadequate supplies of iron.

  2. 2

    Look at your skin in a mirror. Anemia produces pale skin and fingernails. Your eyes may appear lacklustre and dull.

  3. 3

    Assess your body for general feelings of malaise. Many individuals suffering from iron-deficiency anaemia don't have a lot of energy or desire to engage in normal routines or activities.

  4. 4

    Sensitivity to cold is also a symptom of anaemia, as are feeling of dizziness or shortness of breath.

  5. 5

    Sleeping may be difficult, because many individuals suffering from anaemia experience unexplainable restless leg syndrome or restlessness at night.

Tips and warnings

  • Risks for developing iron deficiency anaemia increase with pregnancy, or from a lack of nutrition. Children and teens may be more prone to periods of anaemia because their bodies don't get enough iron or other vital nutrients. Make sure you eat a properly balanced diet and take vitamin and mineral supplements if desired.
  • Left untreated, a serious iron deficiency anaemia may lead to growth and development problems in children or heart problems in adults. If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from anaemia, schedule a visit with your doctor for assessment.

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