Popeye would be proud
I am so tired all the time. Yeah, you and me both. But could there be more to it than just life?
Let’s talk about iron. Iron is a naturally occurring element, found places like dirt—and our bodies! Iron is essential for humans. The iron, in our systems, helps to build the hemoglobin in our blood. Oxygen in our blood stream bind to the hemoglobin, which is how we get oxygen to our tissues. Most people have plenty of iron in their system and their diet to maintain the healthy balance. Though, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and the most common cause of anemia in infancy, childhood, and pregnancy.
Fatigue is one of the signs of iron deficiency. Why is that? Well if you don’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, the hemoglobin will drop and then there is less ability to transport your oxygen—this is what we call anemia.
Oh, yeah, I have that—well you are in good company. Many young healthy women are anemic. Why though, you just said I am healthy? It is because you have monthly periods. You are bleeding every month for a few days. Yes, for most women it isn’t that much and your body can replete it when you are not on your period. But some cannot.
When is it not “normal” to be anemic? Post-menopausal women and men of all ages. Well, what does that mean? It means you are bleeding somewhere else. One of the first places your doctor will look if you are iron deficient (without a good reason), is to your stools. Yes, iron deficiency is one of the ways we can detect a colon cancer. Usually the blood is very slowly leaking and you cannot even see it. Think about when the faucet is accidentally left on a drip. After a while, a bucket will fill, but it takes a long time.
So, what do I do about this? Well, first of all, we have to stop the bleeding—for obvious reasons (or at least slow it down). Then you have to replace it. You can take iron pills, they are a good way to get the iron. Though many people are not able to tolerate the iron pills due to side effects like nausea and constipation. The best way to replenish iron is in your food—red meat and leafy green veggies like spinach, hello Popeye!
So if you are feeling tired, talk to your doctor. Yes, there are many things that can cause fatigue, but iron deficiency is one of them.
Head over to the supplements page to learn more about iron!
…until next time, IrishDoc07