Renowned dietitians have shared the signs you need to get your iron levels checked, as 25% of women have been found to have low iron stores.
Leanne Ward, from Brisbane, and Susie Burrell, from Sydney, are the co-hosts of the hugely popular podcast The Nutrition Couch, which aims to dispel the myths around dieting and healthy eating and explain how you can get the best results of your diet.
In a recent episode, health experts discussed seven signs that something is wrong with your nutritional iron intake – and how you can fix it today.
Leading dietitians have shared the signs you need to get your iron levels checked, as 25% of women have been revealed to have low iron stores (Susie Burrell and Leanne Ward pictured)
Susie and Leanne agreed that the main indicator of low iron is fatigue:
The signs you need to check your iron levels
1. Waking up feeling like you haven’t slept or crashing at 8 or 9 p.m. every night.
2. Shortness of breath, especially when climbing stairs.
3. Always getting sick.
4. Always getting hurt.
5. Strange cravings.
6. Feeling exhausted.
7. A change in your menstrual flow – whether it is heavier or lighter.
“If you wake up in the morning and feel like you haven’t slept, or if you crash around 8 or 9 p.m. every night, these are all signs that you have low iron,” said Susie said.
“The recommendations for women and iron are very high.
“While a man only needs around 8mg a day, women between the ages of 20 and 50 need 18mg, more than double that.
“When you hit menopause, it drops back down to around 8mg.”
The reason we have such high iron needs in our 20s, 30s, 40s and early 50s, they said, is because of our menstrual cycle:
“Think about it,” Leanne said. ‘We are bleeding. You have to stay on top and if you feel tired you have to do something about it.
The second indicator of low iron is shortness of breath, especially when climbing stairs or passing out.
This is again due to low energy levels – and it may be worth seeing a dietitian or GP for a blood test.
“You may be recommended supplements, but with supplementation it can take months for them to have an effect,” Leanne said.
If you suffer from severe exhaustion and shortness of breath, it may be best to have an iron infusion.
One of the signs you might have low iron is if you get short of breath when climbing stairs (stock image)
Other indicators of low iron include you constantly getting sick, exhausted, or injured, and having unusual cravings.
‘Pay attention to your body. If it tells you you want to eat rocks or something weird, that’s your body trying to tell you something,” Leanne said.
Finally, if there is a change in your menstrual flow – whether it stops or becomes heavier – it could be a sign that you have low iron.
“Look for a clinician who will actively help you manage your iron levels because you can’t just feel exhausted,” Susie says.
If you wake up tired or collapse in a heap at 8 or 9pm at night, it could be your iron levels that are to blame (stock image)
There are quick and easy ways to boost your iron levels through your diet.
Dietitians recommend incorporating lots of whole grains like Weetbix, fortified cereals, and legumes like lentils.
“I’m trying to say you should have a good source of iron at every meal and every snack if you don’t eat meat,” Susie says.
Other good food sources include nuts, tempeh, tofu, dried apricots, chickpeas and baked beans – but you should never take your iron with tea or coffee.
“Combining your iron with a vitamin C source will increase absorption levels, but if you take tea or coffee with your iron source, the tannin levels can block any absorption,” they said.
To learn more about The Nutrition Couch, you can follow the Instagram page here.
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