Are You a Powerhouse Running on Empty?

A Call to Action: 

Are you a Powerhouse Running on Empty?

Do you ALWAYS feel tired? Dragging yourself out of bed each morning? Unfortunately, you are not the only one. Welcome to a 4-part blog series delving into one of the most common nutritional disorders affecting women worldwide: Iron Deficiency Anemia. This blog series will discuss the signs and symptoms, causes, treatment considerations, and the link between iron deficiency anemia and mental health. Here is Part One of this blog: Understanding what iron deficiency anemia is and the impact it can have on our lives.

The Problem

We live in a highly technological and results-oriented culture where we are expected to perform on a daily basis.  Efficiency and productivity are highly valued as we strive to juggle our many competing priorities. However, this can be very challenging if an individual is experiencing extreme fatigue and poor focus and concentration. In my practice, I frequently see female patients who experience extreme fatigue and who continue to push themselves to make it through the days, weeks and months. While there are many causes of fatigue, one of the most prevalent causes in women is iron deficiency anemia. The purpose of writing this blog is a call to action for all women – if you are pushing yourself to get through the day, it may be time to assess your iron levels. Iron deficiency anemia can have serious consequences, not only on our productivity, but also on our physical body, our mental state and psychologically how we view ourselves. Are you running on empty?

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where the body’s iron stores are depleted such that it affects the production of red blood cells. When our red blood cells are smaller than normal or reduced in number, their ability to efficiently transport oxygen to the body’s tissues is compromised. As a result, many biochemical functions in the body are affected. The signs and symptoms commonly associated with iron deficiency anemia include:

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Poor cognitive function

  • Diminished exercise or work capacity

  • Headache, dizziness, light-headedness

  • Leg cramps

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Pale skin

  • Spoon-shaped or brittle nails

  • Craving ice 

  • Reduced resistance to infection

Testing

Iron deficiency anemia can be assessed with a blood test. Consult with your medical doctor and/or naturopathic doctor for a thorough assessment of your symptoms. Iron deficiency anemia can range from a mild, moderate to severe presentation of symptoms. If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it is imperative to have your iron stores tested.  It is often easily treated with dietary changes and supplementation.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, to learn more about some of the common and not-so-common underlying causes that may lead to iron deficiency anemia!

Dr. Jyoti Mistry ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor with a special interest in women’s health, digestive issues, weight loss, stress management and mental health. You can find her at Evoke Integrative Medicine in downtown Vancouver, BC.