Iron Deficiency Anemia

Written by Jenni Wiltz
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Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a condition in which you cannot meet your body's need for iron. You can become iron deficient if your diet lacks iron, or through a serious blood loss. Many more women than men are affected by iron deficiency anemia, mostly as a result of menstruation and pregnancy.

Iron is normally absorbed into your body after being extracted from the food you eat. The body stores it in bone marrow and draws it back out when the bodily reserves are depleted. When the iron stored in bone marrow is gone, a person becomes anemic.

Are You at Risk for Iron Deficiency Anemia?

IDA most commonly affects women who are pregnant, lactating, or who have heavy menstrual periods. Children in the midst of growth spurts are at risk, too, since their bodies need more than the recommended daily allowance of iron to support rapid growth. Since red meat is such a rich source of iron, vegetarians also need to carefully monitor their iron intake.

An iron deficiency symptom can be dizziness, weakness, fatigue, headache, or decreased appetite. Since these symptoms are all occasionally common, the key is to look for two or more occurring at the same time and lasting for more than several days. If this is the case, your doctor can do a blood test to determine your red blood cell count and recommend further treatment if necessary. Often iron supplements will be a part of this treatment.

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