Iron is a mineral nutrient that is essential for your body to function normally and to make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein that can be found in red blood cells and its primary function is to transport oxygen to the tissues in your body.
All tissues require oxygen to survive. Iron gives haemoglobin and therefore blood cells their red colour. We absorb iron by eating foods that contain iron.
A low iron level is called iron deficiency. Symptoms may include:
becoming breathless more easily
Low iron levels and anaemia can be caused by:
A diet low in iron
Poor iron absorption from the gut
Bleeding from the gut (which may not be obvious)
Multiple blood donations
Exercise - athletes are prone to iron deficiency because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron in a number of ways.
Adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy and breastfeeding are situations when the body requires more iron
Don’t self-diagnose and don’t take iron supplements unless advised by your doctor. Taking iron supplements when you feel tired and run down will not help unless you have actually been diagnosed with iron deficiency.