General fatigue, shortness of breath, decreased physical strength, pale face, signs of iron deficiency are easily recognized.
Iron is a trace element found in the hemoglobin of red blood cells which carry oxygen to all cells in the body. “A iron deficiency results either from a lack of synthesis of red blood cells or from a lack of iron intake “, describes Florence Foucaut, dietician, and member of the French association of dieticians and nutritionists (AFDN).
What are our daily iron needs?
According to ANSES, contributions to theoretically cover our daily iron needs (source 1) are from:
- 11 mg / d for infants 6 months to 1 year,
- 5 mg / day for children 1 to 2 years old,
- 4mg / day for children from 3 to 6 years old,
- 6 mg / day for children aged 7 to 11,
- 11 mg / d for adolescents 12 to 18 years and non-menstruating adolescentsor whose menstrual discharge is mild to moderate,
- 13 mg / day for adolescent girls with heavy menstrual loss,
- 11 mg / day for men 18 years and older and women with low to moderate menstrual bleeding,
- 16 mg / day for women aged 18 and over with heavy menstrual loss, pregnant and breastfeeding women,
- and 11 mg / day for postmenopausal women.
A blood test confirms the deficiency.
What causes iron deficiency (iron deficiency anemia)?
Usually, this deficiency occurs when nutritional iron intake are not important enough. It is then a Iron deficiency anemia. A phenomenon that particularly affects women during pregnancy and adolescent girls who have adopted a vegetarian diet.
Beyond these specific populations, iron deficiency can also be caused by abnormal production of red blood cells, by certain drugs.
Rarer, anemia sometimes reveals the presence of a pathology such as Crohn’s disease, Biermer’s disease, sickle cell anemia or kidney damage.
“Iron deficiency is not an extremely frequent deficiency when the diet is varied and balanced”, reminds Florence Foucaut.
Enrich your diet with iron
As often, the answer to this nutritional deficiency is on the plate. The important thing: look for foods rich in iron and include them in his diet. “The most iron-rich food is meat. It is then a question of heme iron, the one that is best absorbed by the body “, explains the nutritionist. Red meat for example contains 2.8 mg of iron for a portion of 100 g.
For the vegetarians, other solutions exist. Iron is also found in legumes like lentils or Red beans (non-heme iron). However, its effectiveness is not the same. “The iron from legumes is less well absorbed by the body. It is therefore necessary to consume vitamin C at the same time to allow good absorption “, advises Florence Foucaut.
Prescription iron a necessity?
Most often, the return to a varied and balanced diet is sufficientt. “Without pathology, it is not necessary, most of the time, to supplement with a supplement. The food rebalancing is enough to find a sufficient iron level”, specifies Florence Foucaut.
When that is not enough, food supplements are an effective solution. In capsule or liquid form, they are available over the counter in pharmacies or organic stores. But, in certain situations, it is necessary to go further. “Doctors can prescribe a iron injectionintravenously. A situation reserved for those who suffer from significant anemia and who can no longer make any iron at all “.
In any case, if the symptoms persist or worsen, a medical consultation is required.