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Iron deficiency - How to recognize it & what you can do against it

May 03, 2023 4 min read

Iron deficiency - How to recognize it & what you can do against it

Tiredness, exhaustion, hair loss - all these can be signs of an iron deficiency. Especially women, vegetarians, athletes and seniors suffer from a low iron balance. 

Iron is one of the most important trace elements and ensures good mood and performance. But not only that! Iron has many other health benefits, which is why it should be one of your priorities to make sure you get enough iron. 

When you have an iron deficiency, the number of iron-containing red blood cells decreases. These only live for about 120 days, but the human body is able to recycle the trace element from degraded blood cells. Otherwise, about 25 milligrams would be lost every day - far more than we can absorb through food. The body does not actively excrete iron, but certain amounts of the trace element are still lost through dead cells of the gastrointestinal tract and small bleeding.

Learn how to tell if you have an iron deficiency and what you can do to prevent it. 

But first:

What are actually the functions of iron?

Iron is a vital trace element with many important functions in our body, including:

  •    essential for the oxygen supply
  •    strengthens the immune system
  •    promotes concentration
  •    keeps nails, hair and skin healthy
  •    ensures a functioning immune system


What types of iron deficiency are there?

An iron deficiency is always present when more iron is consumed or excreted than the body absorbs. The iron balance is therefore negative. Depending on how much iron is consumed or excreted and how much iron is replenished through food, there can be a mild, moderate or severe iron deficiency. An iron deficiency can therefore have varying degrees of impact on how we feel and on our general state of health. If the deficiency is only slight and of short duration, the associated symptoms are hardly noticeable or not noticeable at all. Moderate and severe deficiencies, on the other hand, have serious effects on health.

Mild iron deficiency

In the case of a slight iron deficiency, the store is already attacked, but this does not yet affect the formation of red blood cells.

Moderate iron deficiency

A moderate deficiency exists when there is already a slight anaemia, i.e. the onset of anaemia.

Severe iron deficiency

Iron deficiency anaemia or severe iron deficiency is characterised by clear anaemia. Haemoglobin is only produced in small quantities by the body because iron is missing as a starting material. The red blood cells are reduced in size and number. The stores are completely exhausted.

What are the causes of iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency, in short, can happen due to 3 main factors: 

  • Due to possible nutritional deficiencies
  • Increased iron loss
  • Increased iron requirements 


What are typical signs of iron deficiency?

  •    Dizziness
  •    Headache
  •    Exhaustion & fatigue
  •    Nervousness
  •    Paleness
  •    Dry & rough skin
  •    Weakness of the immune system 
  •    Brittle & cracked nails
  •    Hair loss
  •    Torn corners of the mouth
  •    Cardiac arrhythmia
  •    Loss of appetite
  •    Muscle atrophy


How much iron does your body need?

The daily iron requirement depends on your stage of life, lifestyle, diet and many other factors. In general, women have a higher iron requirement than men - due to blood loss during menstruation.

In general:

Adult male:

  •    15 to under 19 years: 12mg
  •    19 to 65 years and older: 10mg

Adult female:

  •    15 to under 51 years: 15mg
  •    51 to 65 years and older: 10mg

Women need more iron during pregnancy and breastfeeding. We recommend that you talk to your doctor about your personal iron needs and have a blood test to see if you have an iron deficiency.


How can you prevent an iron deficiency?

1.  Diet

There are many iron-rich foods that ensure an adequate supply of the trace element. You should make sure that you eat iron-rich foods regularly. 

Iron-rich foods include, for example:

Animal sources of iron:
  • Egg yolk: 7.2mg
  • Beef: 2.6mg
  • Chicken meat: 1.3mg
  • Meat of lamb, pork, veal: 1.9-0.9-1mg
  • Sardines:2,9 mg
  • Perch: 1mg
  • Tuna: 0.8mg
  • Salmon: 0.7mg
  • Pangasius: 0.5mg
Plant sources of iron

Cereals, nuts and seeds

  • Turmeric: 40mg
  • Wheat bran: 16mg
  • Oatmeal: 5.8mg
  • Tofu: 5.4mg
  • Almonds: 4,1mg
  • Lentils, dried: 8mg
  • Chickpeas: 6.2m
  • Beans: 6.1mg 

2. Take iron in combination with vitamin C

However, the intake of iron from plant foods can be influenced by promoting and inhibiting substances. However, vegetarians and vegans can increase the absorption capacity two- to fourfold even with small amounts of vitamin C.

Vegetarians and vegans often pay more attention to a varied and wholesome diet. This may be the reason why the iron intake of vegetarians and vegans is usually as high as or even higher than that of people with a mixed diet.


3. Do not take iron in combination with these products

The following foods can hinder the absorption of iron:

  •    Black and green tea, coffee
  •    Milk
  •    Cola and other phosphate-containing foods
  •    Rhubarb, spinach, beetroot and other foods rich in oxalic acid
  •    Cereals, rice, soy 

4. Take iron supplements

The most reliable way to make sure you get enough iron is by taking iron supplements. 

Our iron supplement  is combined with vitamin C and is therefore particularly bioavailable and effective. 

We recommend that you take the supplement as early as possible, before breakfast. This way the body can absorb the most of it. If you take iron at another time of day, the last meal should have been at least two hours ago. At least one hour should pass before the next meal.


Have you had enough iron today?

Iron is one of the most important trace elements and should never be missing from your health routine. Make sure you eat iron-rich foods or pamper your body with natural iron supplements. And don't forget: Always take it in combination with vitamin C!