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Doctor advises what to eat to help an iron deficiency
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The body needs iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs to the organs and tissues throughout the body. Without adequate levels of iron, the red blood cells can’t effectively carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. If you do not eat enough foods containing iron, your iron levels may be low. Some people will choose to take iron supplements if they are not getting enough from their diet.
The NHS says that there are several potential consequences if you take too much iron, which would be over 20mg.
You may experience constipation, 40 mg oxy feeling sick, being sick or stomach pain.
It says: “Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children.”
The Department of Health and Social Care advises that people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
The NHS warns: “If you take iron supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful.
”Nonetheless, taking 17mg or less a day of iron supplements “is unlikely to cause any harm” and you should continue taking a higher dose if advised to by a GP.
As a general guide, the NHS says the amount of iron you need is 8.7mg a day for men over 18, and 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50, and 8.7mg a day for women over 50.
Though most people can get all the iron they need through their diets, women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period are at higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia and may need to take iron supplements.
Haemochromatosis is an inherited condition where iron levels in the body slowly build up over many years.
This build-up of iron, known as iron overload, can cause unpleasant symptoms. If it is not treated, this can damage parts of the body such as the liver, joints, pancreas and heart.
Nonetheless, a low level of iron can also have negative effects, and complications may develop if the anaemia becomes severe and is not treated.
Many of the symptoms of iron deficiency can be mistaken for a normal part of the sometimes stressful lives we lead, such as tiredness and struggling to focus at work.
Iron anaemia symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath, pale skin, and heart palpitations.
Treatment includes prescribed iron tablets and diet can play an important role in preventing and treating iron deficiency anaemia.
The richest source of iron in the diet includes meat and seafood and for this reason many vegans may suffer from an iron deficiency.
Pregnant women are also more susceptible to having an iron deficiency anaemia as they require twice as much iron to support normal growth for their baby.
Absorption of iron into the gut is reduced by drinking tea and milk, according to the NHS.
Nonetheless, if you drink orange juice beforehand, this can be beneficial.The NHS states: “Vitamin C (sometimes called ascorbic acid) may help the body to absorb iron, so to get the most from the food you eat, have Vitamin C rich foods with meals; for example, fresh vegetables or fruit, or drinks such as fresh orange juice.”
But it notes “tea may reduce the absorption of iron from foods” so you should avoid drinking tea directly before, after or with meals and only drink tea in between meals”.
Non-prescribable food supplements are available over-the-counter and can be taken if an adequate iron intake is not being achieved.
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