As one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the United States, iron deficiency can have a profound impact on a person's overall health. Whether the cause is due to a need for more iron consumption or a decline in absorption of iron taken in, a blood test can determine if an iron deficiency is present. Symptoms of an iron deficiency include the following:
- Delayed childhood development
- Difficulty maintaining a constant body temperature
- A swollen tongue
Left untreated, an iron deficiency can lead to anemia. This is when the body does not have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, a substance in the blood that is responsible for carrying oxygen. Without proper iron levels, the necessary amounts of oxygen cannot get to the various parts of the body.
An iron deficiency can be treated in a number of ways. Once an iron deficiency has been identified, a person can take iron supplements as a means of bringing the amount of iron in the body up to a suitable level. This can take just a few weeks, or it can take several months. However, the best way to ensure that an iron deficiency is avoided is through maintaining a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in foods that are good sources of iron, including soybeans, lean red meats, spinach, or seafood. Going in tandem with this is a diet rich in vitamin C, as this helps the body to absorb the iron it is taking in. It is important that one's diet be balanced and healthy, as too much iron can have complications that are just as severe as too little iron.