Iron helps to preserve many vital functions in the body, including general energy and focus, gastrointestinal processes, the immune system, and the regulation of body temperature.
The benefits of iron often go unnoticed until a person is not getting enough. Iron deficiency anemia can cause fatigue, heart palpitations, pale skin, and breathlessness.
Low iron intake during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth and low birth weight, as well as low iron stores and impaired cognitive or behavioral development in infants. Pregnant women with low iron may be more prone to infection because iron also supports the immune system.
Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. This leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells.
That’s because iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body.
If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen and be able to work effectively. This leads to a condition called anemia.
Although there are different types of anemia, iron-deficiency anemia is the most common worldwide.
Common causes of iron deficiency include inadequate iron intake due to poor diet or restrictive diets, inflammatory bowel disease, increased requirements during pregnancy and blood loss through heavy periods or internal bleeding.