12 Signs You’re Iron Deficient (Hint: You’re Probably Exhausted)
The way some women get a thrill about French beauty products, we get a thrill from German wellness products. Floradix is a liquid herbal supplement that’s been around for over 75 years and most natural health practitioners we’ve met think of it as the gold standard for addressing iron deficiency. We’re excited to partner with Flora, a family-owned brand we’ve loved our whole lives, and seeing Flora’s recognizable bottles or boxes on shelves is always a sign we’re in a health-food or wellness shop that knows what’s up.
Women especially, listen up: Here’s everything you should know about iron deficiency and how to address it…
+ Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide with 12-64% of the population low in iron depending on where studied.
+ Some of those most often affected read like a Chalkboard reader profile: likely vegan, vegetarian, athletic, sometimes pregnant.
Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency
Typical signs and symptoms of iron deficiency?suboptimal iron levels include…
+ pale skin, especially under eyes, nails, palms of hands
+ brittle hair, breaking hair, hair in your brush and bathroom floor
+ nails are thin, brittle, flattened and will become spoon-shaped if deficiency is not treated
+ pale mucous membranes (pull down your lower eyelid, your bottom lip)
+ rapid pulse
+ fatigue and weakness
+ poor immunity/increased infections (i.e. colds and flu)
These symptoms can worsen and other symptoms can begin to appear as the deficiency worsens, such as…
+ decreased ability to exercise
+ shortness of breath
+ heart palpitations
+ poor concentration
+ poor sleep
+ low, listless mood
+ sore tongue (papillary atrophy) and canker sores
+ cold hands and feet
+ ringing in head or ears
+ chest pain during exercise
+ restless leg syndrome
+ dry and dull hair
+ cracks at the corners of the mouth
+ easy bruising, that doesn’t heal quickly
+ pale complexion, olive skin tone, dark circles under eyes
Women + contributing factors to iron deficiency
Puberty + menstruation | Anemia and low iron are completely rampant in young women. For girls, puberty is a time of high iron deficiency. Growth spurts are often a cause, as needs are high then. Menstruation, pregnancy and nursing can all lead to deficiency as well. The more pregnancies, or the heavier the period, the more pronounced. Older women may have heavier periods, fibroids or low thyroid function as contributing factors. Iron absorption issues can be associated with low stomach acid and gastrointestinal issues (Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, intestinal inflammation).
Athletically active women | Women who are involved in athletics are also at high risk. Studies have shown up to 35% of female athletes are iron deficient. Athletes may have increased iron demand, increased iron loss and sometimes impaired iron absorption. Iron deficiency may decrease athletic performance and cause fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating and poor circulation. Optimal iron levels increase oxygen uptake, reduces heart rate and decrease lactate concentrations during exercise.
Vegetarians + vegans | …should also watch their iron levels. Most vegan iron sources are also sources of anti-nutrients. Many grains, for example, unless sprouted, contain phytic acid that binds to iron. Drinking tea with meals binds iron. Certain greens like Swiss Chard, if eaten raw, are high in iron but also oxalate, which binds more iron than you get from the food, causing a net deficit.
Pregnant women | Rate of anemia in pregnant women in North America is reported to be as high as 17 to 31%. Iron is key in placenta development, the baby’s brain development and iron stores for the baby’s first six months of life, among other things. Iron deficiency has been linked to miscarriages, pre-term labor and postpartum depression. The risk of deficiency increases with each pregnancy.
How To Address An Iron Deficiency
It is possible, if not likely, that fatigue or hair loss is related to low iron, or suboptimal levels. Therefore, taking a product like Floradix which supplies iron, should correct it. However, nothing beats a blood test to find out for sure!
It is possible to be sub-optimal in iron, deficient in iron, or anemic. Sub-optimal is being within the safe or acceptable testing range, but you do not have enough to feel your best or look your best. This is extremely common. If you experience a lot of hair loss, are used to feeling tired and cranky, have poor concentration, occasional headaches and cold feet—you could be suboptimal.
A few key insights on blood tests:
+ If you are at a 40 – 50 ferritin, you are well within the range for normal. Most women seem to feel better above 75, somewhere around 80 – 90.
+ Be sure to get the results (numbers) not just whether you are in range or not. Remember that you can be suboptimal and still be within range. You may need to find a functional doctor to work with them to get optimized.
Common testing for iron checks only hemoglobin, the last marker to show a decrease in iron levels. Hemoglobin levels are a reflection of an advanced stage of iron deficiency. First, the body’s iron stores (serum ferritin) begin to drop. Next, red blood cells decrease in size and color and then hemoglobin levels begin to drop. After hemoglobin levels drop, you would be considered anemic. By only monitoring hemoglobin levels, an iron deficiency that could have been diagnosed in the earlier stages could go undiscovered until symptoms are much more intense.
The Good, The Bad + The Ugly On Iron Supplements
The biggest issue with most iron supplements is poor absorption, digestive upset and constipation—pretty much the last thing a low-energy pregnant woman needs to deal with.
Floradix is made in a liquid base with organically grown and ethically wild-crafted fruit juices, herbs rich in iron (spinach, nettles, kelp) and vegetables to enhance absorption of iron. The liquid formula does not require breakdown in the digestive tract so active ingredients are ready for absorption.
The liquid is taken 1 to 3 times daily before meals and apart from supplements (especially pre-natals). By taking the liquid in small, divided doses one has the best chance to absorb more iron (read: numbers go up faster), and to avoid digestive upset. Imagine your doctor thinks you need 30 mg of iron per day. It’s possible one can only absorb 8 to 15 mg of iron at once. Dividing the 30 mg into 3 doses means one maximizes absorption.
Floradix is formulated with 10 mg of elemental iron from 87 mg of ferrous gluconate (shown in studies to be highly absorbable and side effect free). It also contains a blend of vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12. Floradix liquid ferrous gluconate form of supplementation has been studied to be specifically effective for pregnant women. 24% of study participants had an increase in ferritin levels, a 33% increase in red blood cells and a 61% increase in hemoglobin levels without side effects. The formula’s herbal and food base enhances the digestibility of the ingredients. We love being able to rely on food and herb-based supplement like Floradix whenever possible.
According to Flora’s holistic nutritionist, “In really bad cases of fatigue, it might take a while to find the true root cause. I have learned that often we have a lingering, low-grade infection at work wearing us down. That said, for the time being, if you are a woman of childbearing age and do not know what is causing your symptoms, Floradix is gentle enough to try without any blood testing for iron deficiency. That said, do not supplement for more than a month or two without going to get a blood test.” If you are anemic, doctors often recommend 325 mg pills of ferrous sulfate. To match the 325 mg of ferrous sulfate, you would need 60 mL of Floradix liquid.
Ready to try Flora’s organically grown and natural liquid supplement? We’re thrilled to offer 20% off your order and would love to hear all about your experience.