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Daily Iron Intake
While the daily iron intake for men is 8 mg/day, it's 18 mg/day for women and an average of 10 mg/day for children.

Every mineral and nutrient assimilated through food plays a role in the overall functioning and balance of the body. Iron is an especially vital mineral, due to its direct connection with hemoglobin, the oxygen-transporter of the body. Consequently, the lack of adequate levels of iron in the blood can lead to critical problems. The purpose of this article is to present a comprehensive list of low iron symptoms, which people may experience in different developmental stages and conditions.

Role of Iron in the Human Body

Iron plays a very important role in the human anatomy at the cellular level. It is a prime component of hemoglobin (carrier of oxygen and carbon dioxide), which in turn is a component of red blood cells. It is involved in many such crucial cellular level anatomical processes. One of the diseases which low iron levels can lead to is iron-deficiency anemia. So considering the role that iron plays in a body, maintaining its adequate supply through diet is important. Total body iron content averages to roughly 3.8 g in healthy men and 2.3 g in healthy women. In most cases, iron deficiency symptoms overlap with those of iron deficiency anemia.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency in Children

Newborns have about 500 milligrams of iron in their body. As they grow and approach adulthood they need about 5000 milligrams of iron for smooth functioning of their body functions. Children need about 10 mg of iron per day through their diet. These are some of the symptoms of iron deficiency in toddlers and older children:
  • Overall weakness
  • Pica (Strange food cravings - especially for non-food materials)
  • Short attention span
  • Breathlessness
  • Slow growth
  • Blood in feces
  • Brittle nails
  • Pale white eyes (with a blue tinge sometimes)
  • Pale skin color
  • Slow development of motor skills
  • Chronic irritability
These are the symptoms indicating low iron, which parents should watch out for in children. Proper treatment should be immediately started after consultation with a physician, if any of these symptoms are observed. Rapid action is necessary, as delay will cause permanent damage.

Low Iron Symptoms in Women

Symptoms indicative of iron deficiency during pregnancy in women need to be closely monitored as they need three times more iron than that normally required (Daily recommended dietary intake is 27 mg/day). Here are some of the conspicuous symptoms indicative of low iron levels in women:
  • Paleness
  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness during exercise
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Poor Appetite
  • Brittle nails
  • Poor healing of wounds
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding
  • Fragile bones
  • Pica (Unusual craving for non-food substances.)
  • Altered Touch Sensation
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Angina
These low blood iron symptoms in women may not be seen collectively. The symptoms may differ, but if any one of them persists, better consult a physician immediately. The prime cause of iron deficiency in women can be increased loss of iron through menstrual bleeding. It may also crop up in pregnancy because of the increased iron requirement for breast feeding.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency in Men

This sub-section details iron deficiency symptoms seen in men. Here they are:
  • Depression
  • Poor Appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Poor Memory
  • Appetite loss
  • Leg cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Upward curvature of nails
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Asthmatic tendency
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic bladder infection
  • Altered Touch Sensation
  • Angina
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
If any one of these symptoms crop up, it's advisable that you visit a physician. Low blood iron symptoms in men who are athletes may be caused due to poor diet, loss of iron through sweat and urine or gastrointestinal blood loss.

Diagnosis, Causes & Treatment

If you notice the manifestation of these symptoms, it's best to visit a physician. Diagnosis can be based on the results of a blood test. The determination of the underlying cause may require further tests. The prime causes of iron deficiency are blood loss, peptic ulcer, uterine or colon cancer and low iron intake through diet. Infestation by parasitic worms like whipworms, hookworms and roundworms is also a leading cause of iron deficiency. Though treatment depends on the nature of the causative condition, it generally involves the intake of iron supplements. It is recommended that dosage of the supplement only be decided by a physician. Self-medication is not advisable as high iron intake may lead to toxicity.

The disease which these symptoms primarily point to is iron deficiency anemia. To prevent the occurrence of low iron levels, iron-rich foods like beans, oatmeal, tofu, spinach and cereals are recommended. Most of the diseases, other than pathogenic ones, are caused by excess or deficiency of some nutrients or minerals. A planned balanced diet is essential in order to be healthy. Plan your diet according to your body requirements. Knowing about these symptoms always helps. This goes a long way in treating a disease right at the onset. So eat healthy, listen to your body and stay informed about health issues.

Disclaimer: This article is meant to serve as a reference and is not intended as a substitute for advice from a certified medical practitioner.