Leading dietitians have shared the signs you need to get your iron levels checked, as it’s revealed that 25 per cent of women have low iron stores.
Leanne Ward, from Brisbane, and Susie Burrell, from Sydney, are the co-hosts of the hugely popular The Nutrition Couch podcast, which aims to dispel myths around dieting and healthy eating and explain how you can get the best results from your diet.
In a recent episode, the health experts discussed the seven signs that something is wrong with your nutritional iron intake – and how you can fix it today.
Leading dietitians shared the signs you need to get your iron levels checked, as it’s revealed that 25 per cent of women have low iron stores (Susie Burrell and Leanne Ward pictured)
Susie and Leanne agreed that the biggest indicator of low iron levels is tiredness:
The signs you need to get your iron levels checked
1. Waking up feeling like you haven’t slept or collapsing at 8 or 9pm every night.
2. Breathlessness, particularly when going up the stairs.
3. Always getting sick.
4. Always getting injured.
5. Weird cravings.
6. Feeling run down.
7. A change in your period flow – whether it is heavier or lighter.
‘If you’re waking up in the morning and you feel like you haven’t slept, or you’re collapsing at about 8 or 9pm every night, these are all signs that you have low iron levels,’ Susie said.
‘The recommendations for women and iron are super high.
‘While a man only needs about 8mg a day, women between age 20 and 50 need 18mg – or more than double.
‘When you hit the menopause, it drops back down to around 8mg.’
The reason why we have such high iron requirements in our 20s, 30s, 40s and early 50s, they said, is due to our menstrual cycle:
‘Think about it,’ Leanne said. ‘We bleed. You need to stay on top of it, and if you feel tired, you need to do something about it.’
The second indicator of low iron levels is breathlessness, particularly when you’re going up stairs, or feeling faint.
This is again due to low energy levels – and it may be worth seeing a dietitian or GP for a blood test.
‘You may be recommended supplements, but with supplementation it can take months for them to have an effect,’ Leanne said.
If you have severe exhaustion and breathlessness, it may be a better idea to have an iron infusion.
One of the signs you might have low iron levels is if you get breathless going up the stairs (stock image)
Other indicators of low iron include that you’re always getting sick, run down or injured and you have unusual cravings.
‘Pay attention to your body. If it’s telling you you want to eat rocks or something weird, it’s your body trying to tell you something,’ Leanne said.
Finally, if there is a change in your period flow – whether it stops or gets heavier – it might be a sign you have low iron levels.
‘Seek out a clinician who will actively help you manage your iron levels as you can’t just go round feeling exhausted,’ Susie said.
If you are waking up tired or collapsing in a heap at 8 or 9pm at night, then it could be your iron levels that are to blame (stock image)
There are some quick and easy ways you can boost your iron levels through your diet.
The dietitians recommend incorporating plenty of wholegrains like Weetbix, fortified cereals and legumes like lentils.
‘I try and say you should have a good source of iron at every meal and each snack if you don’t eat meat,’ Susie said.
Other good dietary sources include nuts, tempeh, tofu, dried apricots, chickpeas and baked beans – but you should never have your iron with tea or coffee.
‘Pairing your iron with a source of vitamin C will increase the absorption levels, but if you have tea or coffee with your iron source, the tannin levels can block any absorption,’ they said.
To find out more about The Nutrition Couch, you can follow the Instagram page here.