Do you have any idea if you are iron deficient?
Unless you are getting regular blood work done there is a very good chance you have no idea what your iron levels are and if you are deficient, also known as anemic. Being iron deficient can cause headaches and fatigue. (Always consult with a doctor if you are feeling these symptoms so they can properly diagnose you.) I had no idea I had an iron deficiency problem until I started donating blood.
Facts about irons levels - based on blood donation
Each time you donate blood they perform a test to check your hemoglobin level. Your hemoglobin is the protein in your blood that contains iron and gives your blood its red color. For women to donate, their hemoglobin must be at least 12.5 g/dL, and for men 13 g/dL. If you do not meet the minimum you are not able to donate. Iron is essential to building new red blood cells, and since you will be donating your blood it is important that your body will be able to replace it.
3 Simple things to do if you find your iron is low
Since finding out that my iron was low and I was unable to donate blood I made a few simple changes that have increased my iron and kept it there.
- Take a multivitamin with iron (always speak with your doctor before taking supplements). I spoke with a dietitian about this and she suggested Flintstones chewable with iron, stating that being a healthy woman that eats her veggies, I should not need anything more powerful (and honestly those other adult vitamins have made me sick to my stomach).
- Cook with a cast iron pan whenever possible. It is absolutely true that the iron will be absorbed into the food you are cooking thus increasing the iron you are putting into your body.
- Spinach – I know this is a tough one for some people to swallow (literally) but raw spinach is a great source of iron. I often use it in place of lettuce for my salads. I will toss a few leaves in a wrap. Give it a try, it’s really not that bad.
- OK… I have a 4th – nuts do contain iron, however, be careful with this one because they are also high in calories and fat. Pistachios take the lead in iron levels and they also include protein, vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium…but again don’t overdo it.
I’m not saying you have to go donate blood to find out your iron levels (but if you can they always need more), but the next time you have a physical it would be interesting to ask the question…now that you know what it should be and how important it is to rebuild your red blood cells. And honestly, it’s pretty easy to put these changes into your routine to ensure you do not have a dip in your iron levels.