Iron deficiency is very common among women, whether they are vegetarians or not. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, which transports oxygen and carbon dioxide around the body. If you are iron deficient, some symptoms you may experience include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headaches, pale skin, and pale fingernails. These symptoms will appear after the Iron deficiency has progressed into iron deficiency anemia, which is when the body cannot make enough normal red blood cells.
Although women are the most susceptible to iron deficiency, there are other populations that are also at risk. Pregnant women are at a very high risk of iron deficiency. This is because of the increased blood volume needed to support the growing fetus. Newborns and infants are also at risk of iron deficiency. While in the womb, the fetus will build up iron stores from the mother. These stores will start to deplete once they are born and they last for the first six months of life. Breast milk or iron fortified formulas will help supply the infant with adequate iron! Cow’s milk IS NOT good for infants to consume, as it does not supply enough iron for them to grow efficiently. Another group that is at risk of iron deficiency is adolescent girls. Iron is needed to get these girls through this period of growth.
Women of childbearing age are also at a higher risk for iron deficiency because of the loss of blood through menstrual periods.
There are many sources of iron that make it easy to prevent iron deficiency! Some of these sources include chicken, turkey, lean beef, lean pork, and fish. For those who are vegetarians, some good sources are beans, dark leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, enriched rice, and bread. Vitamin C will also help your body absorb iron. To prevent any kind of deficiencies, it is important to consume a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods. If iron deficiency still occurs with increasing sources and eating a well-balanced diet, it is recommended to see a physician.