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Know About Iron Deficiency

Anemia is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in older adults. It has been associated with functional impairment, reduced mobility, decreased quality of life, depression, falls and decreased activities of daily living.

Iron deficiency anemia is one of four nutritional anemias.

Iron deficiency anemia may be caused by blood loss, a deficient diet, medications, malabsorption of iron or if your body has an increased need for iron.

If your body does not get or absorb the amount of iron it needs, it becomes iron deficient. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin (a protein molecule in red blood cells). Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Every organ and tissue in your body needs oxygen to work properly.

Older adults who have difficulty chewing meats may be at increased risk of iron deficiency.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include: fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, spoon-shaped changes in nail beds, inflammation of the tongue, lips or mucous membranes of the mouth.

Sources of iron include lean beef, pork, liver, chicken, turkey, shellfish, beans, lentils, tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, whole grain and enriched breads.

Plant sources of iron are better absorbed if you eat it along with Vitamin C containing foods.

Vitamin C food sources include citrus fruits, kiwi, berries, tomatoes, peppers, kale and broccoli.

Eat a balanced, healthy diet to prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Laboratory tests are used to diagnose anemias. If treatment for iron deficiency is needed, a healthcare provider will assess iron status and determine the most appropriate form of treatment, which may include diet changes or taking supplements.

Author: Shelley Sebring

Title: Registered Dietician


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