Iron is one of the most important minerals in the human body. It is stored in the liver, bone marrow, spleen, and muscles. It is also found mainly in red blood cells. It is the main component of hemoglobin in the blood, which is very important for transporting oxygen to all cells of the body, and plays a role in the metabolism of iron. many proteins and enzymes,[1][2] It is worth noting that iron is available in food in two forms, namely: heme iron; Which is available in animal foods that contain hemoglobin, such as meat, fish and poultry, and is considered the best type of iron; The body can absorb about 40% of it, and non-heme iron; It is the iron that is available in plant foods, or fortified by some foods, and it is also found in nutritional supplements, and the body absorbs it less effectively than heme iron.[3]

Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency occurs when the body does not have sufficient amounts of it, causing low levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, and not enough amounts of oxygen reach the cells, which hinders their proper functioning and leads to a condition called anemia, and despite its different types, anemia caused by Iron deficiency is the most common type, and it is worth noting that the groups most vulnerable to iron deficiency are women of childbearing age, pregnant women, people who donate blood frequently, infants and children, and vegetarians.[4]

Iron deficiency causes

There are many reasons that can lead to iron deficiency, including the following:[4]

  • Malnutrition: Not eating enough iron-rich foods may lead to a long-term deficiency, and it is worth noting that the body’s iron needs increase during periods of accelerated growth, such as childhood and pregnancy, so iron consumption should be increased during those periods.
  • The menstrual cycle and pregnancy: the loss of blood during the menstrual cycle in the female, especially if the flow is profuse, and the mother’s loss of blood during childbirth may cause low levels of iron in the blood.
  • Internal bleeding: Some pathological conditions that result in internal bleeding, such as stomach ulcers, polyps in the colon and intestines, colon cancer, and frequent use of pain relievers such as aspirin that leads to internal bleeding in the stomach may cause iron deficiency in the body.
  • Poor absorption: Some cases and surgeries can interfere with the body’s absorption of iron, such as wheat allergy, or what is known as celiac disease, or surgery in the intestines, such as gastric bypass, which reduces the amount of iron. Iron that the body uses and stores.

Iron deficiency symptoms

Symptoms of iron deficiency vary according to the severity of the deficiency, age and health status. The most common symptoms are:[5]

  • Fatigue and exhaustion: Feeling tired is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency, as it appears in half of the people with deficiency, and it often occurs due to insufficient amounts of oxygen reaching the cells of the body, which deprives them of energy, and the heart is forced to work harder to transfer oxygen-containing blood. More all over the body, resulting in feelings of fatigue, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and poor productivity at work.
  • Paleness: where iron deficiency causes a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin that gives blood its red colour. Such as the lower eyelid, gums, lips from the inside, and nails.
  • Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency, as the lack of oxygen that reaches the cells reduces the ability of the muscles to carry out the simplest tasks such as walking and climbing stairs, forcing the body to increase the respiratory rate to get more oxygen.
  • Headaches and dizziness: as severe iron deficiency cases cause insufficient amounts of oxygen to reach the brain in the event of iron deficiency, which causes blood vessels to swell, resulting in pressure and headache, and although headache is a common symptom of many disorders and health conditions, its occurrence Frequently with dizziness, it can be a symptom of iron deficiency.
  • Heart palpitations: where the observed heartbeat is described as heart palpitations, as the heart in a state of iron deficiency is forced to work in excess to transfer sufficient oxygen to all cells of the body, which results in acceleration and irregular heartbeat, which in severe and long-term cases may lead to hypertrophy Myocardial infarction and its failure.
  • Dry skin and hair: the body diverts the little oxygen it gets in case of iron deficiency to organs and tissues that perform the basic tasks, which leads to stripping the skin and hair of oxygen, becoming weak and dry, and severe iron deficiency cases are linked to hair loss.
  • Swelling of the mouth and tongue: mouth swelling, dryness, ulcers, and inflammation can be signs of iron deficiency, and it should be noted that people with this deficiency have a pale tongue.

Iron deficiency treatment

People who believe that they have iron deficiency are advised to take a blood test to confirm this. If the deficiency is confirmed, the iron-rich foods mentioned above should be increased, and it should be noted that it is necessary to eat vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin C, which helps increase iron absorption, Avoid foods that hinder its absorption such as tea, coffee, dairy products that contain large amounts of calcium, and breakfast cereals made from whole grains. The doctor usually advises to take iron supplements and attach them to a glass of orange juice rich in vitamin C.[5]

the reviewer

  1. ↑ AMY PELLEGRINI (3-10-2017), “What are the benefits of Iron in the Diet?”,, Retrieved 9-14-2018. Edited.
  2. ↑ Catherine Shaffer, “Iron Functions in the Body”,, Retrieved 9-14-2018. Edited.
  3. ↑ Verena Tan (3-6-2017), “How to Increase the Absorption of Iron From Foods”,, Retrieved 9-14-2018. Edited.
  4. ^ AP Jacquelyn Cafasso, Rachel Nall (17-7-2017), “Iron Deficiency Anemia”,, Retrieved 9-14-2018. Edited.
  5. ^ AB Mary Jane Brown (8-12-2017), “10 Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency”,, Retrieved 9-15-2018. Edited.

Iron deficiency in the body

Writing – on the date : – Last updated: 2022-05-10 23:09:01