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What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia

 In this article we are going to look at what causes iron deficiency anemia from the standpoint of what anaemia is.  We will look at what some of the causes are and what triggers a lack of iron in the body. 

If your are interested to learn more about iron deficiency anemia, keep reading, we are going to discuss the details. 

Cause Of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Basically iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the body, which is straight forward.  The anemia, though, is a result of a lack of iron sufficient enough to make the hemoglobin.  When there is not enough hemoglobin, for long enough the body will stop making the red blood cells.  You can think of iron deficiency anemia as the end stage in iron deficiency.  The longer your body goes with low iron, the more impact on red blood cells and hemoglobin.  It is also possible for you to be low an iron and not have iron deficiency anemia.  Many people get confused and use anemia interchangeably with iron deficiency.  Just because you're low in iron doesn't mean you have anemia.  The anemia comes when you have really low iron and your body can't make hemoglobin and then it can't make red blood cells. 

Usually the anemia occurs after a long standing iron deficiency.  All this may be obvious about iron as the cause for iron deficiency anemia.  However, you maybe wondering what is driving the iron deficiency to begin with. 


Causes of Iron Deficiency

There are two main drivers for the iron deficiency.  One is loss of iron and the other is not enough intake.  Within each of these there are a few different causes or problems to consider as well.  First let's look at loss of iron.  Anytime you are bleeding you are losing some of your iron in the form of hemoglobin which is in your red blood cells.  When you bleed you loose red blood cells and the hemoglobin inside.  Some common reasons for this in males comes from the digestive tract bleeding, such as an ulcer, hemorrhoids,  or other the bleeding in the digestive tract.  I have also seen  donating blood be a cause of iron deficiency.  When you donate blood they are strict cut-offs for eligibility to donate blood.  They will not allow you to donate blood if you're already anemic, for instance.  What can happen though is after vials-of-blood-on-medical-diaper-4230623you donate blood, you become anemic, or just iron deficient.  The measurement they use for donation eligibility is hemoglobin. You can have enough hemoglobin and be low to low normal on your stored iron (ferritin). So you may not low enough to be ineligible but on the edge.  Then you donate which drops you into low. If you're not consuming enough iron in your diet or had a diet change it may take a while for your iron levels to normalize. This problem does not come up commonly but most iron deficiency does not present in males either. 

Of course, for females their menstrual cycle is commonly the cause for iron deficiency.  Sometimes it's deficiency without the anemia and other times it's both.  This is also why women are more common to have anemia then men.  They losing blood every month and the heavier the menstrual cycle the more common that will be.  However,  just because a woman has a heavy menstrual cycle doesn't mean she's necessarily going to have iron deficiency anemia.  It really depends on the second factor that we're going to look at which is lack of intake. 

There are two factors that cause for a lack of intake, poor absorption and poor consumption of iron rich foods.  When you have poor absorption it can occur for genetic reasons.  In your digestive tract there are the receptors for bringing iron into your body.  These may be genetically altered leading to less iron absorption.  Also some people  have chronic digestive problems that impair your ability to absorb the iron into the body.  Any chronic inflammation in the digestive tract can interfere with absorption.  If you pair this up with regular iron loss or low consumption of iron rich foods, eventually this leads to anemia. 

The iron-rich foods are foods that are rich in blood.  These are all going to be your animal proteins.  The blood in animals similar to our own blood have hemoglobin.  That hemoglobin is rich in iron. So consuming foods like beef, chicken, turkey, pork etc will provide iron in your diet.  It is possible to get some iron from plants.  However these don't contain nearly the same amount of bioavailable iron as animal protein.  Once you have iron deficiency anemia it will be pretty hard for you to rebuild your iron without consuming animal proteins.  If you are vegan or vegetarian you can get it from an iron supplement. Here is the iron that we like to use 

There are of course other causes for iron deficiency anemia but these are the most common that I see.  This should give you a better understanding of what causes iron deficiency anemia.  If you have a question about iron iron deficiency, please ask it in the comment section below.   If you want a customized plan on how to manage your iron deficiency, click on the link below to get started. 


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