It may not be the kind of health problem that keeps you up at night, but an iron deficiency is definitely going to make life a bit less pleasant. Health officials estimate that as many as 9 percent of women suffer from this problem, and this is true even for the most physically active women. This is one of those things that can sneak up on you and may escape your notice until you begin to experience some of these tell-tale signs.
1. You’re Always Tired
This may be the number one sign of an iron deficiency, and since this is something you can usually blame on a lot of other factors, an iron deficiency may not come readily to mind. Lack of iron makes it more difficult for the body to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the body’s cells. This can lead to fatigue that never seems to go away.
2. Brain Fog
Low iron levels may interfere with the nervous system, resulting in difficulty concentrating, lack of focus and that “foggy” feeling in your head.
3. Loss of Interest
This might not be the type of symptom you expect with an iron deficiency, but it is thought that the same factors that cause brain fog may also cause you to lose interest in just about everything.
4. Shortness of Breath
When lack of iron reduces the oxygen supply in the blood, the body tries to compensate by making you breathe faster. This will often lead to feelings of being short of breath, or an inability to “catch” you breath.
5. Looking Pale
Depending on your skin tone, this can be a bit difficult to detect in some people, but an iron deficiency will definitely make some people look much paler or “washed out” than normal. A reduction in red blood cells and reduced blood flow both contribute to this symptom.
6. Problem Work-outs
If you’re having a particularly tough time getting though your typical exercise routine, it may be your body’s way of telling you that you lack iron. It will make your workout seem like it’s lasting forever, and every rep will feel like a major effort.
7. Post-exercise Soreness
Feeling a bit sore a day or two after a good work-out is certainly normal, but it may seem like the pain dial has been set to “11” when you have low iron levels. Muscles need iron to be able to recover normally and heal the way they are supposed to.
8. Brittle Nails
Your fingernails and toenails may certainly provide you with some warning signs if you have an iron deficiency. The nails will often be brittle and easily broken, and sometimes you’ll even notice spoon-shaped depressions in your nails from lack of iron.
9. Frequent Sickness
Everyone knows that our bodies are complex systems that are dependent on many things to keep us healthy and feeling our best. Being low on iron can make you more susceptible to sickness and infection, so you may find that you are coming down with something more frequently.
10. Weird Pee
This one will probably grab your attention pretty quick when you see it. Although many people will notice that their urine looks a bit reddish when they eat foods like beets that have a lot of pigment in them, it happens more frequently for people with low iron. For some reason, an iron deficiency causes the pigments in foods to be more readily absorbed in the digestive tract.