Ironing Out the Kinks of a Nutrient Deficiency

Lately on Nutrition Friday, I’ve been doing various and sundry nutrient deficiencies. I departed from that last week to sing the praises of caffeine because, why not? Anyway, I’ve mentioned that lately I’ve been sleeping a lot, yet still finding myself tired.

This got me to thinking back over the ups and downs of my life and a time when I had similar symptoms, which revealed a very serious underlying problem.

Iron Deficiency

A clothes iron on a black background
No, not that kind of iron

I was anaemic. One of the most common causes of anaemia? Iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency is very common; in fact it’s one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. Worldwide, up to 25% of people suffer it, and almost half of preschool children. In adults, it’s primarily confined to women through increased risk due to menstruation, pregnancy and vegetarianism.

So, you’re a little tired, doesn’t mean iron deficiency is that big a deal, right? Ehhhh, not so much. In addition to fatigue, iron deficiency can cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • And a bunch of other stuff.

In short, it’s bad.

Types of Iron

There are two types of iron:

  • Heme iron, which is found in animal foods, particularly red meat
  • Non-heme iron, which is found in plant and animal foods

Non-heme iron is more common, but is not as easily absorbed as heme iron.

Which brings me to a fairly familiar theme ‘round these parts. Non-heme iron is more common, but harder to absorb. The best sources (I’ll get to them, don’t worry) are animal based. So guess who is more susceptible to iron deficiency. Yeah vegetarians. So don’t be one.

Your best sources of iron:

  • Red meat
  • Organ meat (don’t like liver? Eat it anyway)
  • Shellfish
  • Canned sardines

Your best non-heme sources of iron:

  • Beans
  • Seeds
  • Dark, leafy greens

Usually this is where I suggest a method of supplementation. Not gonna do that today, because too much iron is very bad for you. Get your iron through dietary sources and

Only supplement your iron intake under professional supervision/consultation.

Oh, and if you were wondering, I wasn’t anaemic, I didn’t suffer iron deficiency, I was just stressed out and tired. When you hear hoof beats, look for horses, not zebras.