We all know that the lack of iron contributes to anemia. However, this is not the end of it all. There is another form of iron deficiency. This deficiency does not certainly lead to anemia. However, it can cause several symptoms such as sleep disorders, skin problems, depression, and tiredness. This article explains this iron deficiency, diagnosis, and preventive methods.
The Iron Deficiency, Depression, and Sleep problems
Consider the following case studies carried out in Japan about the newly discovered iron deficiency. The first case study involves a patient (patient A) who suffered from depression. The patient took some medicine as prescribed by a doctor. The symptoms improved significantly after a year. The second case involves a patient (patient B) who suffered from insomnia. The patient started sleeping comfortably after using some medicine. Both patients lacked adequate amounts of the protein ferritin.
The spleen, liver, and intestines are common sources of ferritin. Both patients took iron in the form of medicine. Therefore, in case you suffer from fatigue accompanied by sleep problems, depression, dry skin, and irritated skin, you might be having ferritin deficiency.
The Roles of Ferritin
Iron performs several functions in the body including cell growth. The body absorbs iron from foods. The body also stores ferritin in different areas. Ferritin proteins release iron whenever needed. Low levels of iron lead to insufficient amounts of ferritin and vice versa. Other health problems may occur. These include dry skin, a decrease in immune cells, and insufficient amounts of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. In the aforementioned case studies, both patients did not know whether they lacked iron but had symptoms like depression and sleep problems because of ferritin deficiency.
Ferritin Deficiency with Normal Levels of Hemoglobin
It is surprising that the patients had no signs of anemia. They had normal levels of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin plays a significant role in transporting oxygen. Hemoglobin molecules cannot function properly without iron. Therefore, normal values of hemoglobin do not imply iron deficiency. Low values normally indicate an advanced level of iron shortage. One early detection method for iron deficiency involves testing the amount of ferritin in the blood. This information is important because you can increase iron stores or ferritin by taking iron-rich diets.
Two Ways of Identifying Ferritin Deficiency
- Examine the back side of the lower eyelid. A whitish color may indicate ferritin deficiency.
- Identify any persistent symptoms of depression, irritation, and tiredness.
Take Vitamin C to Increase Your Body’s Ability to Absorb Iron
Consuming adequate amounts of iron is the first step towards preventing ferritin deficiency. There is also another surprising strategy. Some vegetables like seaweed and spinach contain oxalic acid. They provide less absorbable iron while other foods like red meat, fish, chicken, shellfish, and beef livers provide highly absorbable iron. Therefore, iron from animals is more absorbable than iron from vegetables. Fortunately, vitamin C can help the body absorb iron from vegetables. Studies have revealed that vitamin C increases iron absorption by a factor of two. Cooking can reduce the vitamin content in raw vegetables. In this regard, it is advisable to eat both fruits and vegetables that are rich in iron. These include lemon juice and spinach.