What Causes Iron Deficiency?

Iron deficiency can be caused by various factors, including:

  1. Inadequate Iron Intake: Not consuming enough iron-rich foods in your diet is a common cause of iron deficiency. Iron is primarily obtained from animal sources such as meat, poultry, and fish. Plant-based sources include legumes, leafy green vegetables, and fortified cereals. Insufficient intake of these foods can lead to a lack of iron in the body.
  2. Poor Iron Absorption: Even if you consume an adequate amount of iron, certain conditions can affect its absorption in the body. Some factors that can interfere with iron absorption include a diet high in calcium or phytates (found in whole grains and legumes), excessive tea or coffee consumption, and consuming iron-rich foods with foods or substances that inhibit iron absorption (e.g., calcium supplements, antacids).
  3. Increased Iron Requirements: Certain life stages and conditions may increase the body’s iron needs. For example, infants, children, and adolescents require more iron for growth and development. Pregnant women often need additional iron to support the growth of the fetus. Women with heavy menstrual bleeding are also at higher risk of iron deficiency due to blood loss.
  4. Blood Loss: Chronic blood loss can lead to iron deficiency. This can occur due to several reasons, such as gastrointestinal bleeding caused by ulcers, gastritis, colorectal cancer, or menstrual bleeding in women. Frequent blood donation or certain medical conditions that cause internal bleeding can also contribute to iron deficiency.
  5. Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions can interfere with iron absorption or increase iron loss, leading to deficiency. Examples include celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), gastric bypass surgery, and certain autoimmune disorders that affect the absorption or utilization of iron.
  6. Medications: Certain medications or treatments can affect iron levels in the body. For instance, long-term use of certain pain relievers (NSAIDs), antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and chemotherapy drugs may contribute to iron deficiency.

If you suspect you have iron deficiency, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They can conduct blood tests to measure your iron levels and identify the underlying cause of your deficiency.