Iron deficiency maybe due to an increased need for iron by the body, or a decreased in the absorption or the amount of iron taken in. It is the most common nutritional deficiency in the US and women are those at greatest risk.

But what is iron and why do your body needs it? Let’s find out.

What is iron and why do we need it?

Iron is a mineral that your body needs. It is a part of all cells and does many things in our bodies. It carries oxygen from the lungs throughout the bodies, as part of the protein hemoglobin. Iron also helps the muscle use and store oxygen.

Here are 10 signs and symptoms of Iron Deficiency:

1. Fatigue

Fatigue or exhaustion is the most obvious sign of iron deficiency. When you have low iron, your body is missing vital energy and oxygen, resulting to weakness, mood swings and difficulty focusing on simple tasks. This is becuase the body uses iron to make hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen.

2. Pale Skin

Iron promotes hemoglobin production, which gives your blood its red color and your skin its rosy hue. So, if your rosy hue is suddenly pale, you maybe iron deficient. If you have a light complexion, it’s pretty easy to determine. But it does not matter what your skin tone is, if the inside of your gums, and the inside of your bottom eyelids are less red than usual, low iron maybe the cause.

3. You Get Short of Breath Easily

Have you notice that you are getting out of breath easily doing normal things that you usually handle? These include doing your normal workout or climbing the stairs. If you are, then iron deficiency could be to blame. No matter how deeply you breathe, if your oxygen levels are low, you’ll feel out of air.

4. Brittle Nails

Do you have frail, thin fingernails and toenails? Or a spoon-shaped or concave depression in the nails? Chances are you may have iron deficiency.

5. Irregular Heart Rate

Anemia may develop if your body lacks iron over the long term. This can result in an abnormal heart beat irregularly fast beat. Also heart issues, such as swollen or enlarged heart, heart murmurs and risk of heart failure can all be exacerbated by anemia and low iron.

6. Underactive Thyroid

Having low iron can slow your body’s thyroid function and blocks its metabolism-boosting effects. Hypothyroidism if often missed out, six out of 10 people with a thyroid disease don’t know they have it. So, if you notice weight gain, low energy levels, or even a lower body temperature, see your doctor.

7. Swollen or Soreness in the Tongue

Its not only the lack of that healthy red hue from your skin, that signifies iron deficiency. Your tongue may suffer lack of color, inflammation, tenderness, and an odd smooth texture.

8. Frequent Headaches

Lack of oxygen occurs when you have iron deficiency. Most people who are low in iron, suffer from frequent migraines or headache because of the lack of oxygen to the brain tissues.

9. Heavy Periods

Heavy periods is the number one cause of iron deficiency in women. During their period, they lose too much blood, then was only able to replace only about half of it, and then lose too much blood again the following period.

A normal period should only fill 2-3 tablespoons each month. Try to do this test, if you have to change your napkin or tampon more frequently than every two hours, then go see your doctor about it.

10. Craving for Non-food Items, such as Dirt, Ice, and Clay

Craving for non-food substances can be a sign of of iron deficiency. Iron-deficient individuals may be tempted to bite down on clay, dirt, chalk, and paper. You should consult a doctor if you start to have these strange cravings.