Are you haunted by constant fatigue?

You could have an iron deficiency

Always being tired could be iron deficiency

Are you one of millions of women in North America plagued by constant feelings of fatigue and exhaustion? An expert in women's and children's health says taking a simple quiz for iron deficiency could be the first step on the road to recovering your energy and vitality.

"Fatigue is the most common symptom of iron deficiency - a deficiency that affects 25 percent of all women in North America," says Dr. Cathy Carlson-Rink. "By discovering and then correcting that deficiency with diet changes and proper iron supplementation, women can gradually restore iron levels and bring about a resurgence of energy."

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To determine whether you have an iron deficiency, simply answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:
  • Are you lacking energy?

  • Are you pale?

  • Do you have dark circles under your eyes?

  • Do you have a decreased ability to exercise?

  • Do you have ridged finger nails and/or brittle hair?

  • Do you have shortness of breath with exertion?

  • Does it feel like your pulse is pounding or your heart racing?

  • Do you have a hard time concentrating?

  • Do you suffer from dizziness or buzzing in your ears?

  • Do you have increased infections?

  • Is your tongue sore?

  • Do you crave starch, ice, clay or dirt?

  • Has your appetite decreased?

  • Do you suffer from dull headaches or restless legs?

  • Do you eat less than 4 cups of vegetables per day?

  • Are you a vegetarian?

  • Have you been on frequent weight loss diets?
If you answered "yes" to five or more questions, Dr. Carlson-Rink says you need more iron in your diet.

"The average American women receives 8 to 10 milligrams of iron daily, but, for optimum health, 15 milligrams are recommended. For pregnant women, the recommended amount increases to 30 milligrams," she says.

"Red meat and organ meat are the highest sources of iron, but for those who avoid meat and those on refined carbohydrate diets, it's often a challenge to get recommended amounts of iron in the diet without using a supplement," says Dr. Carlson-Rink. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are another great source of iron as well as micronutrients.

Iron deficiency causes fatigue because iron is needed for the manufacture of hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells essential for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Low iron levels mean less oxygen can be delivered into the tissues, which translates into feelings of continuing fatigue and exhaustion.

Dr. Cathy Carlson-Rink is the first person in Canada to be licensed both as a Naturopathic Physician and a registered Midwife. She holds a B.S. with distinction in Physical Education from the University of Saskatchewan, and an N.D. (Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine) with a postgraduate specialization in Midwifery from Bastyr University, one of the 5 schools of naturopathy in North America. She works at the Family Health Clinic in Langley, British Columbia.