It was the summer of 2012, I was working over 40 hours a week at a local marina and sights on running my first half marathon in the fall. At 20 years old and working outside on Lake St Clair, I didn’t have a care in the world! The hours and work were grueling but nothing too difficult for a young adult. However, I came home every day exhausted, not able to motivate myself to hang-out with friends or socialize after work hours. I started sleeping over 12 hours a night and I even remember falling asleep at a friends house before being able to drive home. I felt like I couldn’t make it through a work day.
Finally, I made an appointment with my primary doctor to check my iron levels. Yup, the results were clear, Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Anemia is very common amongst young adult females; symptoms vary but the primary sign is extreme fatigue. Other symptoms include, weakness, pale skin, cold hands and feet, brittle nails.
As women, we have an increased risk for iron deficiency anemia. Pregnant woman, vegetarians, and infants are also at-risk.
Causes of anemia include not getting enough iron through your diet, heavy blood loss during menstruation, or an ability to absorb iron.
Here is a rundown of diagnosis and treatment
- Hematocrit: percentage of blood volume made up by red blood cells
- Hemoglobin: protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen, low hemoglobin levels indicate iron deficiency
- Ferritin: storage of iron in the body, low levels indicate iron deficiency
- Transferrin: ability to transport iron in the blood, high levels indicate iron deficiency
Once diagnosed, physicians may prescribe an over-the-counter iron supplement. In addition, there are many foods high in iron and able to aid in iron deficiency.
Animal sources: body absorbs more iron from meat than plant sources
- Lean beef
- Beans and lentils
- Baked Potatoes
- Dark leafy veggies-spinach
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Enriched breads, whole grains.
-> Vitamin C is also important. Vitamin C helps to increase absorption of iron rich foods. When consuming iron rich foods pair with citrus fruit, leafy greens, broccoli or tomatoes.
-> Research shows cooking in a cast-iron skillet increases iron content in food.
DON’T WAIT! If you are experiencing the above symptoms check with your doctor and start incorporating iron-rich foods into your weekly routine.
DON’T let anemia keep you down. With the right treatment you will be back feeling yourself again.
Treatment Tip: Lean cuts of beef include
- Eye of round roast and steak
- Sirloin tip side steak
- Top round roast and steak
- Bottom round roast and steak
- Top sirloin steak
Use a cast-iron skillet to cook up an iron-rich meal!
Stay Spicy, Ginger