Iron-deficiency anemia is on the rise in the United States. Americans are eating less red meat, which may account for part of the increase in iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency anemia is common in certain groups of people but is more common in females than males, mostly because of blood loss during menstruation.
What age groups are affected by iron deficiency anemia?
- Some infants between ages 6 months and 12 months: Babies are born with enough iron for about four to six months. Babies who are breastfed only or drink unfortified formula may not get enough iron.
- Children between ages 1 year and 2 years: young children who drink an excessive amount of cow’s milk may not get enough iron.
- Teenagers: Growth spurts may use up iron reserves more quickly, causing iron deficiency.
- Adults over age 65: Older people may have a poor diet and not get enough iron and other nutrients.
- Certain chronic medical conditions, including bone marrow disorders or autoimmune disorders, put individuals at higher risk.
- Dietary patterns can cause iron-deficiency anemia because individuals are not consuming enough iron in their diet or they have a condition that limits the absorption of iron.
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency anemia is when the blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. It is the most common cause of anemia. Iron-deficiency symptoms develop over time and initially can be mild but can worsen over time if not treated.
Common iron-deficiency symptoms include:
· Shortness of breath
· Pica (a condition in which people crave non-food items like ice, chalk, paint, clay or starch).
· Pale Skin.
Management and Treatment:
Iron deficiency can be treated by increasing the iron in your diet and using iron supplements. Your healthcare provider will determine the plan of care based on why you are low in iron. If you are using iron supplements, then a vitamin C supplement is necessary to enhance the absorption of iron.
Focus on consuming iron-rich or enriched foods every day.
Legumes: Peas, beans, tofu, and tempeh.
Bread and cereals: Whole wheat bread, enriched white bread, rye bread, bran cereals, and enriched cereals.
Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, string beans, dark leafy greens, potatoes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes.
Protein: Beef, poultry, eggs, liver, and fish, including shellfish.
Fruit (dried): Figs, dates, and raisins. Include Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes to help your body absorb iron.
People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet should look for iron-fortified bread and cereals. There are several non-meat options for boosting your iron intake, like beans, tofu, dried fruits, and dark leafy greens. You may want to take an iron supplement with Vitamin C. Ask your healthcare provider about appropriate iron supplements so you don’t overload on iron.
Contact Family Nutrition Center to schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitians. Let us help you meet your health and nutrition goals.