By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Iron, the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S.
fbd9c8c8f687ba73e7f02dd3d279a2a68d32c03a64cf55da55443270a836f0b8
Getting enough iron might not be on our to do lists, but if your body is not getting enough iron you might not feel like doing anything. Iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S.. - photo by Jenniffer Michaelson
Getting enough iron might not be on our to do lists, but if your body is not getting enough iron you might not feel like doing anything. Iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S. In fact, approximately 10 percent of women are iron deficient.

What does iron do exactly? When it comes to our cells, iron is essential. Jessica LaRoche, a registered dietitian at Intermountain Live Well Center says, Its very important that we get enough iron, so we can get enough oxygen delivered to our organs and our muscles.

Iron is also necessary to maintain healthy cells, hair, nails, immunity, growth and development.

LaRoche says if your iron levels are getting low you can start to feel really fatigued. Your body has a hard time controlling temperature, feeling cold all the time, brittle nails, pale skin.

Some of us are more prone to being iron deficient like vegans, vegetarians, women of child-bearing age and kids. Infants, children, theyre growing like crazy. Blood volumes increasing, you need iron to keep up with that growth, LaRoche says.

Since our body doesn't make iron, it's up to us to make sure our bodies get what we need. Foods like red meat, fish and chicken are heme sources of iron, which are the easiest for our bodies to absorb. If you're vegan or vegetarian, make sure to incorporate plant-based sources of iron in your diet, like grains, beans, nuts and fortified cereals. Keep in mind when eating non-heme sources of iron to avoid consuming large amounts of calcium, which can work against you. According to LaRoche, calcium prevents some iron absorption. She recommends adding foods with vitamin C when eating plant-based sources of iron to help our bodies absorb this important nutrient.

LaRoche also cautions iron supplements should only be taken under direction of a doctor. Too much iron could result in gastric upset, constipation, nausea and faintness. Too much iron can especially be a problem for individuals with a condition called hemochromatosis. Untreated hemochromatosis can lead to iron toxicity, including liver cirrhosis, impaired pancreatic function and heart disease.

If you feel your iron levels might be low LaRoche says a great conversation to have with your doctor is to let him know your symptoms.
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter