Iron is an element that is vital to several physiological processes. With low iron levels, the body cannot properly circulate oxygen, which commonly results in dizziness, weakness, and fatigue. Low iron concentration can also lead to unnatural paleness. Furthermore, since iron contributes to the production of structural proteins, a low iron level may cause joint and abdominal pain.
Naturally concentrated in the blood as ferritin, iron is responsible for the color of red blood cells. Blood vessels near the surface of the skin contribute to the appearance of the skin, so any change in iron levels can directly affect a person’s complexion. Consequently, paleness or pallor commonly indicates a low iron level. The eyes may develop a bluish tint, while gums and other parts of the mouth may become lighter.
A number of physiological processes require iron. Enzyme production and synthesis, muscle movement, and oxygen distribution are some of these functions that tend to suffer from low iron levels. For instance, when the production of cytochrome, the enzyme responsible for producing energy, is lowered because of lower than normal iron levels, a person may experience listlessness, low energy, and appetite loss.
Iron is a vital component in oxygen circulation. Insufficient iron levels hamper oxygen distribution, which leads to shortness of breath and dizziness. Similarly, when not enough oxygen is distributed to the muscles, the result may be muscle fatigue, weakness, impaired coordination, and night cramps.
Structural proteins like collagen and elastin help retain the shape and elasticity of organs and connective tissues. The body cannot produce adequate amounts of these proteins when iron levels are low. This leads to symptoms such as joint pain, swelling in the ankles, and abdominal pain. Moreover, low iron levels can also lead to decreased appetite, brittle nails, hair loss, and constipation.
The presence of several of these symptoms can be the result of anemia or other blood deficiencies. One should consider consulting a physician if some of the more serious symptoms continue for an extended period of time. Usually, a simple blood test is enough to diagnose any iron related blood deficiencies.
Women and children are most susceptible to iron deficiency. Women are vulnerable because of blood loss from menstruation. The spike in hormone levels during menstruation may also lead to low iron levels, as iron is normally consumed when hormones are produced. Children, on the other hand, are prone to iron deficiency due to an unhealthy or a dairy rich diet. A dairy rich diet contributes to lower than normal iron levels because dairy products are relatively poor in iron.