The modern day lifestyle brings more than a fair share of daily stress, enough to have you feeling exhausted when the day is through. But there is a big difference between feeling tired and feeling run down. If you constantly feel like you’re lacking energy and find it challenging to take on even the simplest of tasks, you may have an iron deficiency. And that is neither good for your weight nor your health.
Unfortunately iron deficiency is not uncommon. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 30 million Americans fall short of the recommended daily allowance for iron.
Iron is a key nutrient whose main job is to make sure your body receives enough oxygen to support your activities, including those focused on weight loss. Red blood cells use hemoglobin, a substance made of iron, to bring fresh oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When you’re not getting enough iron, it produces a kind of domino effect on energy levels, which impacts your ability to lose weight efficiently.
One of the main ways iron deficiency depletes energy is by affecting the thyroid gland. Your thyroid governs your body’s metabolic processes, so when it isn’t working properly, your metabolism rate falls, severely hampering weight loss efforts. People with sluggish thyroid function might be suffering from a condition called hypothyroidism and tend to have higher body mass indexes (BMI).
The causes of iron deficiency vary, but tend to affect women more than men. Menstruation and pregnancy are common sources of decreased iron in the blood. Other causes include dietary choices low in iron or celiac disease, a condition that hinders the ability to fully absorb nutrients, such as iron, from food.
The most effective way to correct an iron deficiency is by first choosing foods that are iron-rich. This can be accomplished for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, although it should be noted that there is a difference in the type of iron found in animal and plant-based foods. Meat, poultry and fish contain heme iron while vegetables and legumes offer non-heme iron. The main difference between the two has to do with the ability of iron to be absorbed by the body. Heme iron absorbs much more easily than non-heme. To help with the absorption of non-heme iron, just be sure to consume plant-based foods with a source of Vitamin C, which you can think of as an iron absorption booster. Good sources of iron include broccoli, spinach, nuts, seeds, turkey, chicken, salmon, and tuna.
If your iron deficiency cannot be resolved through nutrition, you may want to talk to your medical provider about the value of iron supplements or other treatments.
Don’t let fatigue due to iron deficiency drag you or your weight loss efforts down. The simple steps it takes to increase your iron levels can make all the difference.