Iron – Do you get enough?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kali L. Gradishar
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The wheels started turning Jan. 23, both realistically and figuratively, as the Inland Northwest Blood Center blood drive hauled their mobile blood-donating bus to the Base Exchange and a curiosity was sparked about the number of folks who were not able to donate blood because of an iron deficiency - women especially.

Not only can an iron deficiency affect the ability to donate blood, it can also affect daily life.

According to Medline, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, "approximately 20 percent of women, 50 percent of pregnant women and three percent of men are iron deficient."

Are you wondering if you or someone you know might be a part of this statistic? It's possible, especially for young children between six months and three years of age, pregnant women and women at a childbearing age.

"Too little iron can impair body functions, but most physical signs and symptoms do not show up unless iron deficiency anemia occurs," according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Signs that you may not be getting enough iron include feeling tired and weak, decreased work and school performance, difficulty maintaining body temperature, and decreased immune function.

If you've been nodding your head while reading the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, there are a few things you can do. One is to speak with your healthcare provider, or, if you feel your symptoms are minor, you may just want to kick off a resolution to eat a more balanced diet.

There's a long list of foods that can provide you with the necessary intake of iron. The grocery list includes soybeans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans and meats such as beef, duck and lamb. Though many of these are high in iron, it is also necessary to eat a diet rich in vitamin C.

So, head to the commissary and choose the right foods to increase your health and boost your energy levels.