Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Today I had my annual check-up with the doctor, which was so much fun. Note to self: Don't let your iron levels get that low ever again. I have known for a while that my iron levels were on the low side, nothing scary but low enough that I cannot give blood. Low iron levels have been seen in many marathon runners which is what I attributed mine to as well since I do have a high weekly mileage, an average of 35 mpw. I attempted to combat this problem by changing my diet and eating more iron-fortified foods such as cereals and more red meat. Apparently that was not enough, my iron level has drop again so I must now begin taking a supplement twice a day along with my multi-vitamin.

Anemia- Iron deficiency

Anemia is a condition where red blood cells are not providing adequate oxygen to body tissues. Iron deficiency anemia is a decrease in the number of red cells in the blood caused by too little iron. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment in the blood. Without it, the blood cannot carry oxygen effectively -- and oxygen is needed for the normal functioning of every cell in the body. Approximately 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men are iron deficient.

High-risk groups include:
Women of child-bearing age who have blood loss through menstruation
Pregnant or lactating women who have an increased requirement for iron
Infants, children, and adolescents in rapid growth phases
People with a poor dietary intake of iron

Pale skin color
Shortness of breath
Sore tongue
Brittle nails
Unusual food cravings (called
Decreased appetite (especially in children)
Headache - frontal
Blue tinge to sclerae (whites of eyes)

Oral iron supplements are available (ferrous sulfate). The best absorption of iron is on an empty stomach, but many people are unable to tolerate this and may need to take it with food. Milk and antacids may interfere with absorption of iron and should not be taken at the same time as iron supplements. Vitamin C can increase absorption and is essential in the production of hemoglobin.
Iron-rich foods include raisins, meats (liver is the highest source), fish, poultry, eggs (yolk), legumes (peas and beans), and whole grain bread.

Information is courtesy of Medline Plus, a service of the National Institute of Health

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