An iron deficiency can leave you feeling weak, lethargic or lacking in energy. However, feelings of low energy and tiredness can be caused by many different vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Visit your doctor if you have persistent periods of tiredness or low energy to eliminate any underlying conditions or diseases.
Iron and Energy
A lack of energy is one of the most common signs of an iron deficiency. Too little iron means that the blood cannot carry enough oxygen around the body. This can affect your energy levels, your mood, your concentration levels and your work performance. Iron deficiency affects a large amount of American citizens; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States."
Iron supplements are available over the counter of your local pharmacy. Taking a supplement can help you build up the energy that is depleted from iron deficiency. However, consult with your pharmacist or doctor before starting a course of iron supplements. While a daily supplement can be useful in treating an iron deficiency, too much iron can be fatal, especially in children.
If you suspect that your low energy is caused by a lack of iron, try to consume it in your diet before resorting to supplements. Because of the availability of a wide variety of foods in the U.S., supplementation is not often necessary. Choose foods rich in iron, such as clams, red meats, beans and leafy vegetables to increase your iron intake naturally.
Women, especially, may find iron supplementation beneficial. Darin Ingels of the Bastyr Center for Natural Health states that up to 20 percent of women suffer from an iron deficiency. Due to menstrual bleeding, women require more iron than men and may feel low in energy and tired after menstruation. Women need to put back the iron lost through their periods regularly. If this cannot be achieved through diet, an iron tablet could help.
If your low energy persists after a change in your diet, consult your doctor. Iron deficiencies can be linked to non-dietary influences. Certain medical issues, such as gastrointestinal disorders and bleeding in the intestines, can cause low iron levels. Because of this and the danger of overdose, iron tablets should only be taken under medical advice.
- FamilyDoctor.org; Anemia: When Low Iron Is the Cause; September 2010
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Iron and Iron Deficiency; February 2011
- MedlinePlus; Iron Overdose; Jacob L. Heller; January 2010
- Bastyr Center for Natural Health; Iron Supplement Boosts Energy in Women with Unexplained Fatigue; Darin Ingels; September 2003
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Iron in Diet - Side Effects; Linda Vorvick, MD; March 2009