An iron deficiency is a condition in which your body is lacking in this important mineral.  While nutrient deficiencies are not very common in a regular, non-weight loss eating pattern, many diets geared towards weight loss tend to lead towards certain deficiencies as a result of food restrictions.  The content below is designed to be information about an iron deficiency and what you should expect if you suspect that you are lacking in this nutrient.

What is an Iron Deficiency?

Having an iron deficiency means that your diet is lacking in foods that are rich in iron, which is a trace element.  While you can suspect that you have an iron deficiency, you need to have blood tests to detect if you are indeed lacking in this element.  If so, your health could be affected in a number of ways.  Generally, your diet is the primary culprit to an iron deficiency and described ahead are some common ways in which you can develop an iron deficiency.

How do you Get an Iron Deficiency?

Acquiring an iron deficiency can occur in a number of ways.  For starters, the most common way to be lacking in iron (or any nutrient for that matter) is with dieting.  Many diets and weight loss plans encourage restrictions on certain foods and when you are on a diet for a long period of time, you risk a nutrient deficiency.

Other common ways an iron deficiency can come about is with more complicated medical conditions.  If your diet contains ample iron, but yet you are low in this mineral then you could have something causing the issue.  Certain bowel conditions, pregnancy, as well as blood loss are all common ways that can lead to low amounts of iron in the blood.

Symptoms of an Iron Deficiency

As with any nutrient deficiency, you could experience a number of symptoms that help you to determine that something is not right.  With that said, listed below are some of the common symptoms of an iron deficiency and if you suspect that you are at risk of this nutrient issue, you should consult with your physician.

Unusual Shortness of Breath

If you have been laboring with your usual activities of daily living, it could indicate that you are short of breath, due to an iron deficiency.  Iron is important for attaching oxygen to your blood cells and when you have low levels of iron, it could mean that the cells in your body are not getting the proper amount of oxygen.  When your cells do not have adequate oxygen, it could lead to shortness of breath.

Generalized Fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of an iron deficiency is unusual fatigue.  Since it is common to be fatigued on a regular basis (due to work and a lack of sleep) many people simply do not notice this symptom.  Be sure to monitor your fatigue and consider getting adequate sleep at night to see if your fatigue resolves.


One common symptom of an iron deficiency is heart palpitations, or strong heart beats.  These heart beats are not considered normal and can be a sign of heart issues as well.  If you have noticeable palpitations and you suspect that you have an iron issue then you should consult with your physician.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Interestingly, about one in every four individuals with restless leg syndrome has an iron deficiency.  This condition, which causes the inability for your legs to relax, typically occurs at night and it can lead to issues with your sleep patterns.  Consider consulting with a doctor if you have restless leg syndrome and you suspect you have an iron deficiency.

Foods High in Iron

While an iron deficiency can generally resolve itself with a diet that includes more of this nutrient, you should consider eating foods that are rich in this nutrient.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the foods that are rich in iron.


If you are low in iron, it is important to find foods that will help to boost your intake. For this reason, red beef is a good source of iron and a standard serving of beef contains about 25 percent of your daily requirements of iron.


As if you needed another reason to enjoy chocolate, but if you are low in iron consider eating more dark chocolate.  A one ounce serving of dark chocolate contains about one-fifth of your entire daily requirements of iron, so eat up as you please.


One of the best options for adding iron to your diet is soybeans.  A typical serving of soybeans contains close to 50 percent of your RDI of iron, thus making this an excellent option.  If you pair soybeans with red beef, you enhance your chances of getting more iron in your diet in just one meal.


The final food listed here is spinach.  Considered to be a superfood that contains few calories and ample nutrients, spinach is one of the best options if you are lacking iron in your body.  One serving of iron contains close to 40 percent of your total daily needs of iron, making this a great option.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect that you have an iron deficiency, it is important to pay close attention to your symptoms.  If you are feeling fatigued, your skin color appears flushed, or if you just do not feel well then this could be a result of a significant deficiency.  Anytime you suspect that you have an iron deficiency, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor for best results.  You will likely be sent for lab results as a way to see if you truly are lacking in this important nutrient.  In addition, consider any of the foods above as good options to boost your total iron in your diet.

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