Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Iron deficiency

I've been meaning to go and give blood again, the blood bank even phoned me to remind me it was time. That was mmm... must be three weeks ago, and I still haven't got there.

Women sometimes get turned away when they go to donate blood because of depleted iron. Your body uses iron to make haemoglobin - that's the stuff that makes your blood red and is essential for carrying oxygen around the body. If you don't have enough iron, your body makes fewer, smaller red blood cells. Rather like buying an overnight bag when you really need a suitcase - it's not going to hold enough; in this instance, oxygen. You can be low on iron without necessarily being (iron deficient) anemic, and the symptoms may only be mild to begin with, developing slowly.

Symptoms include: feeling weak, fatigue, dizziness, being grumpy, headaches, trouble concentrating, looking pale and shortness of breath. (Most of us suffer with most of these most of the time!)

Who is most susceptible to iron deficiency? Small children, teenagers, pregnant women and women with heavy menstrual flow.

What aggravates iron deficiency? Poor diet, ulcers, pregnancy, stomach surgery or celiac disease.

Can you prevent it? In most cases, yes. Eat wisely and mindfully. Lean meat, eggs, oily fish, whole grains, beans and pulses, spinach, molasses, raisins, figs, seeds, prunes and oatmeal are all rich in iron. Caffeine, calcium and antacids act against iron absorption, Vitamin C improves absorption. The amount of iron your body requires varies with age and gender, but just make sure you get 2 - 3 servings of iron-rich foods every day.

mmm... I think I might have a poached egg on spinach for breakfast, with a glass of orange juice.

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