TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Lack of iron occurs when daily iron intake is less than recommended. Iron is a mineral that is absorbed into the body through food and supplements. This mineral contributes to the formation of hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen.
“If the amount of iron in the body is low, the body will not be able to produce enough hemoglobin, which causes deficiency anemia iron, “said nutrition expert Bansari Acharya as quoted from Insider.
Apart from anemia, mild symptoms when the body is deficient in iron include fatigue, lightheadedness, cold hands and feet, and lack of concentration. Nutritionist Nicole DeMasi says at a more serious stage, iron deficiency can lead to pika or wanting to eat something non-food, such as clay or paper, severe fatigue, and a fast or irregular heartbeat.
The recommended amount of iron intake per day varies based on age and sex. Children under 6 months of age, for example, need 0.27 mg, when they are 7-12 months the amount of intake increases to 11 mg, then when they are 1-3 years old the need for iron becomes 7 mg per day.
Those aged 4-8 years need 10 mg of iron every day, then increased when they are 14-18 years old to 11 mg (men) and 15 mg (women). In adults, for example 19-50 years, daily iron needs are around 8 mg (men) and 18 mg (women), while if over 51 years the required amount is 8 mg for both men and women. For special conditions such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, daily iron needs are around 27 mg and 10 mg.
Usually, not everyone can meet their iron needs. The causes vary, including little or no iron content in the diet, blood loss, for example due to heavy menstruation or other causes, difficulty absorbing iron due to surgery or gastrointestinal disease.
“One of the early symptoms of iron deficiency is fatigue. If you feel very tired constantly, even after adequate rest and limited physical activity, you should go to a doctor,” Acharya said.
Blood tests can show a person’s iron deficiency. This test checks the amount of iron, iron-binding capacity, and levels hemoglobin. When testing hemoglobin levels, iron deficiency occurs when the figures show below 12 grams per deciliter for women and below 13.5 grams per deciliter for men.
To increase iron levels, you can eat more foods that contain iron. The options are varied, such as fortified breakfast cereals (18 mg per serving), boiled spinach (3 mg per half cup), tofu (3 mg per half cup), potatoes with skins (2 mg per medium sized potato).
People who are at high risk, but are not yet iron deficient or who have recently overcome iron deficiency may be prescribed 60-100 mg of iron daily, DeMasi says.