How Your Muscle Aches May Be Due to Low Iron

Iron deficiency is one of the most common dietary mineral deficiencies in the world, according to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. The best sources of iron are animal products, which contain heme iron. Plant sources contain non-heme iron, which is more difficult for your body to absorb. Poor absorption is just one of the causes of iron deficiency, which can lead to a form of anemia and a variety of symptoms, including muscle aches.

Iron deficiency muscle aches and pains can be avoided with the proper education and medical attention. (Image: Hero Images/Hero Images/GettyImages)

Iron-deficiency anemia causes a reduction in the levels of red blood cells and oxygen in your body. When iron supply is low, your body begins to use up its iron stores, preventing your body from making enough red blood cells. These cells in turn contain less hemoglobin, which is an iron-rich protein that transports oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.

Women, young children and infants are most at risk for iron deficiency anemia. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and a higher risk of infections. However, by the time you start to experience symptoms, your iron deficiency is likely severe. Common causes of this condition include poor diet, poor iron absorption or blood loss.

Muscle Pain and Iron Deficiency

In some cases, people suffering from iron deficiency experience pain from trigger points in their muscles, according to American Society of Hematology. The pain results from a lack of oxygen in the muscles.

Also, red blood cells remove carbon dioxide and waste products from the muscles. When red blood cells are low, toxins accumulate, which may also contribute to muscle pain. Although effective treatment for anemia can relieve muscle pain, some people may continue to experience these aches even after they are no longer anemic, says the American Society of Hematology.

Treatment for Low Iron Symptoms

Your treatment will depend on the severity of your iron-deficiency anemia, so it's critical that you consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Possible remedies include adding more iron-rich foods to your diet, such as red meat, eggs and dairy, and taking iron supplements. Also, deep-tissue massages can help increase blood circulation, reduce toxin buildup and soothe muscle pain, according to Sam Speron, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. If blood loss is contributing to your condition, your doctor may recommend a medication or surgery to stop it.

Precautions: Don't Self-Medicate

Although home remedies such as changing your diet can treat iron deficiency and relieve muscle pain and other symptoms, do not attempt to self-medicate.

Some dietary changes can be harmful, such as improper iron supplementation. For instance, taking too much iron can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain or cramps, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, vomiting, seizures, rapid heartbeat and organ damage.

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