7 Signs You're Iron Deficient (And 3 Ways to Fix It)

iron pills
(Photo: HealthCastle)

Did you know that 9 percent of women suffer from iron deficiency? And that number is even higher in active women, according to a list put out by Women's Health. Iron deficiency can lead to multiple problems in your health that you might not be aware are from iron deficiency. Below are a few warning signs from Women's Health that you might be iron deficient.

Fatigue: Are your eyes constantly drooping while you're at your desk, even after a full night's sleep? Iron produces hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to our red blood cells and through our bloodstream. If you don't have enough oxygen in your blood, you're going to feel exhausted. Check out some other ways to beat fatigue here.

Difficulty focusing: In this day and age, it's easy to be distracted by a new iPhone app or sound byte on your favorite radio station. However, if you feel like you might have more difficulty focusing than most people, the cause could be from not enough iron in your blood. Iron deficiency leads to the neurotransmitter synthesis in your brain being altered, leading to lower than normal functionality of the brain.

Apathy: That same neurotransmitter synthesis being altered that causes difficulty focusing can also cause you to be apathetic — about everything from this week's episode of The Bachelor to even your friends and family.

iron deficiency apathy
(Photo: Women's Health)

Breathlessness: Because there's not enough iron, therefore not enough oxygen, in your bloodstream, you could be breathless not only at the gym, but also doing simple physical activities like walking to your car.

Unusually pale skin: The excess of today's vampire movies, books and TV shows should not have an effect so strong that your skin begins to pale at the mere mention of them. That unusual paleness might be caused by reduced blood flow and a decreased number of red blood cells.

Prolonged soreness in muscles: Everyone feels the burn a day or two after working out, but if you feel like your muscles are crazy sore for too long, that might be because your muscles are deprived of recovering properly because of the lack of iron. You also want to make sure that you're doing the proper cool down after your workouts to ensure that your muscles aren't extra sore the next day.

sore back

Brittle nails: Have you tried every nail product out there that claims to strengthen your nails, but to no avail? The real cause behind your brittle nails may be low amounts of iron in your blood.

Read the full list of signs you might be iron deficient from Women's Health Magazine here.

So now that you know the warning signs of iron deficiency, listed below are a few ways to fix that.

Eat iron rich foods: According to WebMD, pregnant women, children and teens especially need to consume iron rich food. Cook up some red meats, fish or poultry for you and your family to enrich their diets with more iron. Other options include breakfast cereal enriched with iron, cooked beans, spinach and many nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, roasted almonds, roasted cashews and sunflower seeds. Here is one of our favorite recipes for a salmon citrus salad that contains a lot of iron.


Take iron supplement pills: For most cases of iron deficiency, iron supplements will have you feeling better in a few days. Iron supplements can be either prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter in pill form, chewable tablets or even gummy bears! Even though you will feel better after taking them for a few days, you need to continue taking those pills for a few months in order to build up a sufficient amount of iron in your blood (via WebMD).

Talk to your doctor: If your iron deficiency is severe, you should talk to your doctor, who will take blood tests and ask you questions about your health. Don't take iron supplements if you think your iron deficiency is severe because it could delay the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, which requires more substantial steps to correct (via WebMD).