Anemia: Why Women Need to Pay Attention to Their Iron Levels
Headaches, poor memory, sleep issues, pale, dull skin and nails, tired looking eyes, premature wrinkles, palpitation, and tingling sensation in finger and toes are some of the symptoms of iron deficiency.
Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits enhance iron absorption
Iron is a vital nutrient that performs several essential functions in the body, such as transporting oxygen in the blood and bolstering the immune system. Unfortunately, iron deficiency is a prevalent nutritional deficiency across the globe, and if left unaddressed, it can result in various symptoms such as fatigue and anemia. This condition can also have adverse effects on a person's ability to engage in physical activity, which is especially crucial for women who regularly exercise. Thus, women must pay extra attention to their iron levels to avoid any negative consequences on their health and physical performance.
Although maintaining adequate iron levels is crucial for everyone, it is especially important for women of reproductive age. These women are at a higher risk of developing iron deficiency anemia due to blood loss during menstruation. Thus, it is essential for them to ensure sufficient iron intake through their diet. In a study, it was revealed that dietary iron absorption can be influenced by endurance exercise. Further, the available data suggest that approximately 17 percent of male and 50 percent of female endurance athletes suffer from iron deficiency, indicating that women are at a significantly higher risk. Therefore, women must pay extra attention to their iron levels, especially if they engage in regular endurance exercise.
Symptoms to look out for:
The possible common symptoms of anaemia to look out for, besides general fatigue, are breathlessness on exertion (do the stair climbing test), headaches, poor memory, sleep issues, pale, dull skin and nails, tired looking eyes, premature wrinkles, palpitation, and tingling sensation in finger and toes.
How to maintain adequate iron levels:
Iron is mostly found in meat, eggs, and organ meats, making it challenging for vegetarian women to get enough. However, they can obtain iron from lentils, soybeans, nuts, fresh fruits (bananas, apples, pomegranates), dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, drumstick leaves), and dried fruits (apricots, peaches, prunes, and raisins). Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits also enhance iron absorption.
To address iron deficiency, one can also opt for iron-enriched salt that offers a salt blend providing 25 per cent of daily iron needs.
(Kavita Devgan, Nutrition Advisor for Tata Salt Iron Health)
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