Iron Deficiency

Updated: May 8

Got iron? Many women don't


Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States, and women are among those at greatest risk. Iron is critical for producing hemoglobin, a protein that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout your body. So without it, everything suffers—and can lead to anemia. Check out these symptoms of iron deficiency and, if you have them, see your doc and request a fertility test, which measures your body's iron stores.

  • You're exhausted

  • You have heavy periods

  • You're pale

  • You get short of breath easily

  • Your heart is pounding

  • You have restless leg syndrome

  • Your head hurts

  • You're losing your hair

  • You have an under active thyroid

  • You're pregnant

You're vegetarian or vegan


All iron is not created equal. Your body absorbs heme iron—which comes from meat, poultry, and fish—two to three times more efficiently than non-heme iron from plants. You can still get enough iron with careful meal planning. Dark leafy greens, whole grains, and legumes are all rich in iron; pair them with vitamin-C-rich foods like bell peppers, berries, and broccoli to boost your absorption.

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