Fatigue can be devastating to both your personal and work life. Having said this, it’s not surprisingly that it’s one of the most common health complaints that come up in Naturopathic practice.
Fixing your fatigue, isn’t always as simple as getting more sleep. There are many different underlying causes of fatigue. One root cause that shouldn’t be overlooked is iron deficiency. Why? Because iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, and it can be just as harmful as not getting enough sleep every night.
While iron deficiency affects both men and women, these populations aren’t equally affected, - 20% of women and 3% of men in Canada suffer from iron deficiency.
Regardless, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, so you can recognize when it’s time to seek help from you Naturopath or doctor.
Why is iron so important?
Iron is needed for the production of red blood cells. In particular, it is the key nutrient needed for the production of hemoglobin.
In plain language, hemoglobin is the ‘red’ in our red blood cells.
Hemoglobin’s function is to help transport oxygen from the lungs to all the tissues and organs in our body.
If you do not have enough iron, hemoglobin levels can decline resulting in anemia, and chronic fatigue.
How does your body get to this place of iron deficiency-induced fatigue?
There are three main reasons that lead to iron deficiency:
First, you may not be putting enough iron in, in the form of iron-rich foods such as meat, fish, or leafy greens like kale and spinach.
Second, your digestive tract may not be absorbing the iron that you put in.
The third reason applies to women only, and is the reason why iron deficiency is more common in women then men - you may be loosing too much iron every month with your menstrual cycle.
If you suspect that you are iron deficient, getting a blood test through your Naturopath or doctor will determine whether or not this is the case for you.
How Can a Naturopath Help?
If you are found to be iron deficient, your Naturopath will provide dietary strategies to help improve your iron levels, as well as recommend an easy to absorb iron supplement.
If there are other factors such as chronic digestive concerns, or really heavy periods that may be impacting your iron levels, your Naturopath will address these areas to help prevent iron deficiency from occurring again.
What Does Iron Deficiency Do To Us?
First and foremost, as we have discussed, iron deficiency can cause the chronic fatigue that plagues so many people.
Other common symptoms include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, anxiety, cold body temperature, and paleness.
With the speed of modern life that can be a drain on our energy, iron deficiency is an unnecessary drain on our dwindling energy supply.