Iron is an important mineral that is necessary for a healthy body. Iron helps produce the oxygen-carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin. Persistent low iron levels are more pronounced in menstruating, pregnant or lactating women, vegetarians, long-distance runners, and people with bleeding ulcers. Alternately, too much iron in the blood is a genetic condition called hemochromatosis in which the body is unable to control the amount of iron it absorbs. Although there is no simple take-home test to screen for your blood iron, you can generally test yourself using visual and physical indicators. Always consult your physician if any of these symptoms develop.
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Examine your gums, nails and skin. A low blood iron content will make them appear pale or yellow in color.
Listen to your heartbeat. If it sounds rapid, irregular, or skips a beat, this may indicate low iron, although several other possibilities exist. If this persists, you should immediately contact your physician.
Check your breathing to see if it’s regular or quick and uneven, which may be caused by iron-deficient anemia.
Speak to your doctor if you experience tongue inflammation, restless leg syndrome or a desire to eat non-nutritive sources, such as dirt, which is a common craving for low iron in the blood.
Be aware of any joint pain accompanied by fatigue, abdominal pain or general lack of energy as this may indicate hemochromatosis.