Iron is an essential nutrient for our bodies, playing a crucial role in carrying oxygen throughout the body. It binds to oxygen molecules in the lungs and is then carried by red blood cells to the tissues where it releases the oxygen for use by cells. Unfortunately, many people suffer from iron deficiency, which can lead to a range of health problems.
Iron deficiency occurs in three stages:
- Iron depletion
- Iron-deficiency erythropoiesis
- Iron deficiency anemia
Stage 1: Iron depletion
In this stage, your body’s iron stores are low, but there are no symptoms. The iron level in the blood is still normal, but your body is starting to run low on iron.
Stage 2: Iron-deficiency erythropoiesis
In this stage, your body is still low on iron, and the iron level in the blood drops below normal. Your body tries to compensate by producing more red blood cells, but they are small and pale because they don’t contain enough iron.
Stage 3: Iron deficiency anemia
This is the most severe stage of iron deficiency, and it occurs when your body’s iron stores are depleted, and there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Iron Deficiency Symptoms
Iron deficiency can cause a range of symptoms and health problems. Sometimes these symptoms can be mistaken for other health problems, so it is important to be aware of them. Some common symptoms of iron deficiency include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Headaches and dizziness
- Brittle nails
- Cold hands and feet
- Chest pain
- Restless legs syndrome
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s recommended you talk to your doctor and ask to check your iron levels.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is a severe form of iron deficiency that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce healthy red blood cells. Without enough iron, the body can’t produce hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency anemia can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, but some groups are at higher risk than others.
Women who are having a baby or have very heavy periods, vegetarians and vegans, and people who have problems absorbing nutrients may be more likely to get it. If it’s not treated, iron deficiency anemia can cause problems like getting sick more easily and problems during pregnancy. To prevent and treat this condition, it’s important to get regular blood checks and eat an iron-rich diet.
Iron Levels Chart
An iron levels chart can help you understand your iron levels and determine if you have iron deficiency. Here’s what a sample iron levels chart may include:
Serum iron: This measures the amount of iron in your blood. Normal levels are between 60 and 170 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).
Ferritin: This measures the amount of iron stored in your body. Normal levels are between 12 and 300 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) for men and between 12 and 150 ng/mL for women.
Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC): This measures the amount of transferrin, a protein that carries iron in your blood. Normal levels are between 240 and 450 mcg/dL.Transferrin saturation: This measures the percentage of transferrin that is carrying iron. Normal levels are between 20 and 50%.
Normal Iron Levels
Normal iron levels can vary depending on age, gender, and other factors. Here are the normal iron levels for adults:
- Serum iron: 60-170 mcg/dL
- Ferritin: 12-300 ng/mL for men, 12-150 ng/mL for women
If your iron levels are low, your doctor may recommend iron supplements to help raise your levels and prevent iron deficiency. There are two types of iron supplements – heme iron supplements and non-heme iron supplements. Heme iron supplements provide better absorption rates and fewer side effects. OptiFer Alpha is a heme iron supplement that has a smaller tablet size, less fillers, and the same 11mg of elemental iron. Ask you family doctor or pharmacist about OptiFer Alpha today.
Iron is an essential nutrient that plays a critical role in carrying oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency occurs in three stages: iron depletion, iron-deficiency erythropoiesis, and iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, and restless legs syndrome. Iron deficiency anemia can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, and it’s essential to get regular blood checks and eat an iron-rich diet to prevent and treat this condition. An iron levels chart can help you understand your iron levels, and your doctor may recommend iron supplements to help raise your levels and prevent iron deficiency.
Cleveland Clinic: Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Merck Manual: Iron Deficiency Anemia
Andy The RD: The Three Stages of Iron Deficiency
Medicine Net: What Are the 3 Stages of Iron Deficiency?