gPosted by Crisha Alyziah Miller -When you have iron-deficiency, your cells can’t get enough oxygen. How can you tell if your levels are a little low? Be on the lookout for these 10 warning signs.
Iron is crucial to biologic functions, including respiration, energy production, DNA synthesis, and cell proliferation. Although the prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia has declined somewhat recently, iron deficiency continues to be the top-ranking cause of anemia worldwide.
The human body has evolved to conserve iron in several ways, including the recycling of iron after the breakdown of red cells and the retention of iron in the absence of an excretion mechanism.
However, since excess levels of iron can be toxic, its absorption is limited to 1 to 2 mg daily, and most of the iron in the body (about 25 mg per day) is recycled by macrophages that phagocytose senescent erythrocytes. The latter two mechanisms are controlled by the hormone hepcidin, which maintains total-body iron within normal range, avoiding both iron deficiency and excess.
Hepcidin is a peptide hormone that is synthesized primarily in the liver. It functions as an acute-phase reactant that adjusts fluctuations in plasma iron levels by binding to and inducing the degradation of ferroportin, which exports iron from cells. In iron deficiency, the transcription of hepcidin is suppressed. This adaptive mechanism facilitates the absorption of iron and the release of iron from body stores.
In most cases, iron resistance is due to disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Partial or total gastrectomy or any surgical procedure that bypasses the duodenum can cause resistance to oral iron. Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which is performed in selected obese patients to reduce caloric intake and to correct diabetes, is an emerging cause of iron deficiency and anemia because the procedure effectively removes an active iron absorption site from the digestive process and increases gastric pH. Helicobacter pylori infection decreases iron absorption because the microorganism competes with its human host for available iron, reduces the bioavailability of vitamin C, and may lead to microerosions that cause bleeding. Since it is estimated that half the world’s population is infected with H. pylori, clinicians should be aware of the possibility of infection and provide treatment in order to eradicate this source of iron-resistant iron-deficiency anemia.
Patients with malabsorption and genetic iron-refractory iron-deficiency anemia may require intravenous iron. Intravenous administration is also preferred when a rapid increase in hemoglobin level is required or when iron-deficiency anemia caused by chronic blood loss cannot be controlled with the use of oral iron, as is the case in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. Active inflammatory bowel disease is an emerging indication for the use of intravenous iron; oral iron is not only ineffective but may also increase local inflammation. Intravenous iron is essential in the management of anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease who are receiving dialysis and treatment with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents.
Posted by Brenda Hughes – 7 Common Signs of Nutrient Deficiency
Look for stunted growth. If a child is not getting enough nutrients, they will not grow at a normal rate. The rate of growth for a particular child varies with their age. For instance, most people grow rapidly from infants to toddlers, then slow their growth until puberty, when they experience another period of rapid growth. If your child does not grow rapidly during these sensitive periods, they might be suffering a nutrient deficit.
- See a doctor regularly to ensure your child is growing at a normal rate.
Check dental health. Inflammation of the gums, especially, is an early indicator of periodontal disease, which may in turn indicate a nutrient deficit. If your gums are puffy, red, tender, and bleed when you floss or brush, you might not be getting enough nutrients. In advanced cases, you might have loose teeth. See a dentist if you experience any of these dental problems.
- See a dentist at least twice each year for a regular dental checkup. Your dentist will be able to refer you to a nutritionist if they believe it is necessary.
Monitor for increased illnesses. People who do not receive adequate levels of nutrients are more prone to colds and viral infections. A nutrient-deficient immune system cannot fight off illnesses that a healthy one can, leading to a greater frequency of illnesses, more severe illnesses, or both. Nutrient-deficient people might, for instance, experience:
- a sore throat
- a runny nose
- other respiratory tract infections (like pneumonia and bronchitis) and flu-like symptoms
Look for muscle spasms. Muscle spasms are any involuntary contraction or vibration of the muscle tissue. If you suddenly develop facial tics – for instance, a sudden upturning of the mouth, or scrunching up of the nose – you might be nutrient deficient. Eye twitches (closing your eyes with excess force or experiencing difficulty in keeping your eyelids stable) could also indicate you need more nutrients. Painful cramps in your legs (especially your calves or thighs) are also reported in some cases of nutrient deficits.
- You might be experiencing a magnesium deficit, since magnesium helps regulate the neuromuscular system that allows our muscles to relax.
- Deficits of B vitamins and calcium might also contribute to muscle spasms.
Look for thyroid problems. Some kinds of nutrient deficiencies – especially iodine deficiency – lead to imbalances in the thyroid and an inability to produce and regulate hormones properly. Signs that your thyroid might be acting up include weight gain, deceased libido, goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland that usually produces a large bump in the neck), hair loss, and infertility
Look for eye problems. In a developing child, a vitamin A deficit could lead to blindness or visual impairment. If your child cannot see well, or suffer from night blindness (an inability to see in the dark), they might not be getting enough vitamin A. Other eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration also occur in people who have a deficit of vitamin C, vitamin E, zeaxanthin, and zinc.
- You can detect macular degeneration and cataracts by paying attention to any loss of quality in your vision. Blurriness, clouded vision, and increased sensitivity to light are common symptoms.
Look for signs of malnutrition. Nutrient deficiencies are one form of malnutrition. Signs of this condition include, notably, sunken eyes and a bony frame with visible ribs. The skin of a nutrient deficient person will be leathery, dry, and inelastic. Jaundice (yellowing skin) could also occur. Finally, a malnourished person will usually feel lethargic and have low energy levels overall.
- Malnutrition usually indicates that someone is not getting enough calories or is not getting a balanced diet. Malnutrition might also indicate that someone is getting too many calories.
See a doctor. The many symptoms of nutrient deficits are common in many other conditions and diseases. Therefore, in order to rule out other possibilities, it is important to see a doctor and get a professional diagnosis of your condition. Doctors can draw and analyze your blood to determine concentrations of key nutrients. Some doctors might conduct a cellular analysis as well as (or instead of) a blood analysis. If you suspect you or your child has a nutrient deficit, see a doctor and explain why you’re concerned about your nutrient levels.
- Your doctors might not need to conduct a blood analysis if signs and symptoms of a nutrient deficit are obvious enough.
- Your doctor might run tests to look for levels of specific nutrients, or just do a general screening for major nutrients.