Do you need an iron top-up

A Generic Photo of a doctor talking blood samples to test for anaemia. See PA Feature HEALTH Anaemia. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HEALTH Anaemia.
A Generic Photo of a doctor talking blood samples to test for anaemia. See PA Feature HEALTH Anaemia. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HEALTH Anaemia.

Iron-deficiency anaemia is one of the most common nutritional disorders, yet many people are unaware of the signs.

GP Dr Shahzadi Saleem tells Sophie Herdman why pumping up our iron intake could by life-changing.

There are many different types of anaemia - from vitamin B12 to folate deficiencies - but by far the most common form is iron-deficiency anaemia, and it affects more people than you might think.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that over 30% of the world’s population is anaemic, mainly due to a lack of iron.

In fact, as Dr Shahzadi Saleem, a GP based in Oxford, points out, iron deficiency is one of the most common - if not the most common - nutritional disorders.

What is it?

Put simply, it means that levels of haemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen through the blood, are below normal.

Dr Saleem says that in the UK, normal levels are measured as 13.5g per decilitre in men, 11.5 in women and 11 in pregnant women.

Spot the signs

The main symptoms are chronic tiredness and lethargy.

“That’s the most common thing that people present to the GP,” says Dr Saleem. “Then we expand upon it and they’re usually also feeling short of breath on exertion. They might also be suffering with palpitations, anxiety and hair loss.”

These symptoms might seem small, but they can have a big impact on your life.