While some signs of iron deficiency, such as fatigue, may seem obvious, others may surprise you. In this article, we will explore five unusual signs of iron deficiency and how they can affect your health.
Iron deficiency is a common nutritional disorder that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce red blood cells. Iron is essential for the proper functioning of the body, as it helps in the production of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
While fatigue, weakness, and paleness are well-known signs of iron deficiency, there are several other unusual signs of iron deficiency that can indicate a lack of iron in the body. Let’s discuss five of them below.
1. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition that is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs, particularly during nighttime. Iron deficiency has been linked to RLS, as the mineral is essential for the proper functioning of the dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates movement, and low levels of dopamine due to iron deficiency can cause RLS. A study conducted on people with RLS found that 20% of them had low iron levels, and treating the iron deficiency improved their symptoms significantly.
Pica is an eating disorder characterized by a craving for non-food items such as dirt, ice, or paper. While the exact cause of Pica is unknown, it has been known as one of the more unusual signs of iron deficiency. People with iron deficiency may crave non-food items as their body is trying to obtain the iron it needs to produce red blood cells. This condition is commonly seen in pregnant women and children, who are at a higher risk of iron deficiency. Consuming non-food items can be dangerous and can lead to severe health complications.
3. Hair Loss
While there are several causes of hair loss, iron deficiency is one of them. Iron is essential for the proper growth and development of hair follicles. Low levels of iron can result in hair loss, as the body redirects its limited resources to essential functions. A study conducted on women with hair loss found that 23% of them had iron deficiency anemia, and treating the iron deficiency improved their hair growth significantly.
4. Spoon-shaped Nails
Spoon-shaped nails, also known as koilonychia, is a condition characterized by concave nails that look like spoons. Iron deficiency can cause koilonychia, as the mineral is necessary for the proper growth and development of nails. Spoon-shaped nails can be a sign of severe iron deficiency and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Breathlessness or shortness of breath is a symptom of iron deficiency anemia. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. A study conducted on patients with heart failure found that 50% of them had iron deficiency anemia, and treating the iron deficiency improved their symptoms significantly.
Why you shouldn’t ignore these signs of low iron in your body
Iron deficiency can manifest in several weird ways that may not be immediately recognizable. If you experience any of these weird signs of iron deficiency, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider and get your iron levels checked. A simple blood test can diagnose iron deficiency, and treatment typically involves iron supplements and changes in diet to increase iron intake. Some iron-rich foods include red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and leafy green vegetables.
Iron deficiency is preventable, and it’s crucial to maintain healthy iron levels for optimal health. Women of childbearing age or those who are pregnant have a greater risk.
There are several other unusual signs of iron deficiency that can indicate a lack of iron in the body. Maintaining healthy iron levels is essential for overall health and well-being, and it’s important to consult a healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms. With proper diagnosis and treatment, iron deficiency can be easily managed, and individuals can lead healthy and active life.