Getting enough sleep but still feeling tired? You could be running low on iron

Anaemia can have a negative effect on your health.
Anaemia can have a negative effect on your health.

Could you – or your teenage daughter – have an iron deficiency and not know it? If you're getting enough sleep, but still feel tired, running low on iron could be the problem.

Why am i so tired? Take our assessment

Iron is our most common nutrient shortfall. A serious deficiency can lead to anaemia. That's when you have fewer red blood cells than normal or when those cells don't have enough haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. A variety of symptoms can signal a problem.

Signs of iron deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Pallor
  • Headaches and/or feeling dizzy
  • Weakness

If you're feeling tired or have iron-deficiency risk factors like being overweight or a vegetarian, ask your doctor about getting tested to see if you need to boost iron through diet or would benefit from taking iron supplements.

Both iron deficiency and anaemia can result from menstrual blood loss, which is why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly tests for teenage girls who experience heavy periods.

A note on testing: While a complete blood count test can detect anaemia, it may not pick up an iron deficiency. That requires a separate blood test to measure the protein ferritin. If you have risk factors, having this test can catch a deficiency before it progresses to anaemia.

To boost iron through diet, eat lean beef, chicken and turkey, oysters, dark leafy greens and whole grains. Besides leafy greens, the best plant-based sources of iron are legumes (beans and lentils), tofu and cashews. The body is better at using the iron from animal sources, but you can improve the absorption rate of iron from plant-based foods by eating a high vitamin C food, like citrus fruit, at the same meal.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24