Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

An Iron Deficiency Could be the Reason You Feel Tired All the Time

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Health and Wellbeing /

tired iron deficienyAccording to a recent study, iron deficiency is a more common problem than you may think. Researchers say that many people who feel tired all the time may not be getting enough iron.

The latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed that around 46% of girls and a quarter of women have low iron intakes. Now, researched published in Network Health Dietitians has revealed that exercise enthusiasts are another high-risk group.

The study found that one in three female exercise enthusiasts have such low iron stores, they are at high risk of clinical anaemia. Three out of five are ‘depleted’ in iron – the first stage in developing a deficiency.

Iron is essential for energy because it’s the building block for red blood cells that transport oxygen around the body.

Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton, the study’s lead author, says: “While the studies to date have focused on elite athletes, our research suggests that a chronic lack of iron is undermining the performance and potential of thousands of everyday exercise enthusiasts.”

Study co-author Rin Cobb, a clinical and sports performance dietitian, adds: “What’s really shocking about this new research is that it shows how a supposedly very health-conscious group is actually undermining their performance and general health.”

What are the symptoms of an iron deficiency?

Common signs of iron deficiency include tiredness and lethargy, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and a pale complexion. Less common symptoms include headaches, tinnitus, an altered sense of taste, itchiness and hair loss.

iron rich foodsIf you’re low on iron, you need to make an effort to fit more of it into your diet. The best way to increase your iron intake is to eat a little more red meat – one of the richest sources of iron. You’ll also find a good dose of iron in broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, seafood, raisins, lentils, black beans and pumpkin seeds – though in lower quantities.

Dr Ruxton stresses that getting enough iron is a crucial part of your exercise regime. “Iron is essential for energy, so it is very difficult to achieve your peak performance without optimal levels.”

If you’re regularly experiencing fatigue, look out for other tell-tale signs that it’s lack of iron which is causing your tiredness, and adjust your diet accordingly.

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