A lack of iron in the blood which results in a decrease in the number of red blood cells is called iron deficiency. This may be a consequence of low iron in the diet, loss of blood or the body’s failure to properly absorb iron. It could also result from lead poisoning in children. Iron deficiency is a popular nutritional deficiency and occurs mainly when the body takes in less iron than what is going out. Iron is the principal component of hemoglobin which is located in red blood cells. It functions in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Consequently if the body does not obtain enough iron it will be unable to produce enough hemoglobin. This in turn will cause muscles to get less oxygen and the body will have lower energy. Iron is very essential to nutritional health. The body of an adult human possesses 3- 4 gram of iron. Most of this, around 60 to 70 percent, can be found in the blood as circulating iron. The remaining percentage (1 to 1.5g) serves as storage iron in the body.
Development of Anemia
The most well known form of anemia is iron deficiency anemia. Anemia is the final consequence of long term iron deficiency. Anemia develops slowly when the regular store of iron in the body is actually low. The body requires iron, folic acid and B12 to create red blood cells. Anemia will develop if there is a lack of one or more of these in the body.
Symptoms of Iron deficiency in the body
Iron deficiency symptoms are numerous. The initial stage of iron deficiency is usually typified by a lower storage of iron without any abnormalities being identified. A common symptom usually is weakness, feeling tired and having low energy. Pale skin on the lining of the nails, inside the mouth, gum and eyes is also an iron deficiency symptom. The heart beat becomes more forceful and rapid with iron deficiency. Another symptom is that finger nails become white, thin and brittle; they could also grow in an uncharacteristic spoon shape. A person with iron deficiency may also experience bleeding and extreme menstrual pains. Frontal headache is also a sign of iron deficiency. The person with an iron deficiency may also experience, shortness of breath in doing even mild exercise such as walking. Iron deficiency may cause a person to have a low immune system which allows more susceptibility to infection. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, disruption in sleeping and brittle hair. A desire to eat things which are not food such as dirt, paint or ice, referred to as Pica, is another iron deficiency symptom. Loss of appetite, in children, may also be a symptom of iron deficiency. There are other functional disruptions resulting from iron deficiency such as lowered work performance. These symptoms could also be indicative of other health related problems and so consultation should be made with a doctor before treatment for iron deficiency is begun. If too much iron is taken it could prove unhealthy.