What Causes a Deficiency of Iron?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2018
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Iron is a mineral that is naturally found in the body, and a shortage of it can lead to medical issues like anemia. Fortunately, there are ways to add iron to the body once the issue is diagnosed. The best way to find out how to solve the problem is to know what causes it. A deficiency of iron is often caused by problems with the diet, blood loss, or difficulty absorbing the mineral through iron-rich foods.

Having a diet that is rich in iron is important for anyone looking to avoid a deficiency of this mineral. There are several animal sources of this substance, with the most iron being found in red meat. Additionally, chicken, salmon and tuna, liver, and eggs contain iron. Those who do not consume animal products can also obtain iron from certain foods, such as dried fruit, seeds, nuts, dried beans, and leafy greens. Some foods do not naturally contain iron, but are fortified with this mineral before being put on the grocery store shelf, with certain types of cereal being one of the most common iron-fortified products.


Loss of blood is another cause of a deficiency of iron, as the less blood there is in the body, the less iron there is. A major injury that involves sudden extreme blood loss can lead to a deficiency of iron, as can a minor one that involves blood loss over time. Colon cancer, an ulcer that bleeds, uterine fibroids, or any internal injury that leads to slow blood loss can all result in a deficiency of iron. Women who have particularly heavy or long menstrual periods can also lose too much blood, as can those who have excess blood loss during childbirth or surgery.

Some people eat foods with iron quite often, yet they may still develop a deficiency. This may be due to inadequate absorption, which is often caused by an intestinal disorder since this body part is responsible for absorbing iron into the bloodstream. Crohn's disease and celiac disease are two examples of medical conditions that make iron absorption difficult. Taking certain medications, especially the types that decrease stomach acid, can also result in poor absorption of iron. Additionally, pregnancy can lead to a deficiency of iron since the fetus takes much of the iron that is put into the body so that it can begin making its own red blood cells, muscle, and blood vessels.



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