Do you feel tired all the time and have trouble sleeping?
If fatigue has become an everyday part of your life and your usual routine is becoming seriously hard work, you could be one of millions of people who are not getting enough iron.
Iron is essential for energyas it's a building block for the red blood cells that transport oxygen around the body — which explains why constant tiredness is a telltale sign that you aren't getting enough.
Looking pale is another sign of iron deficiency, along with feeling short of breath and being aware of your heart beating.
But there are many more ways your body could be warning you that you're low in iron.
Other signs include headaches, dizziness, tinnitus — hearing sounds which seem to come from within your body, hair loss, cold hands or feet, difficulty swallowing, feeling itchy, disturbed sleep, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, having a sore or unusually smooth tongue, or brittle or spoon-shaped nails.
- Iron helps make red blood cells which transport oxygen around body
- Headaches, dizziness and tinnitus other common signs of iron deficiency
- Almost half of girls and almost one in four women have low iron intakes
Iron deficiency the most common nutritional gap in the UK, the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that 46 per cent girls and almost one in four women have low iron intakes.
But research just published in Network Health Dietitians has uncovered another at-risk group — exercise enthusiasts.
The study reveals that one in three female athletes have such low iron stores they are at high risk of clinical anaemia and three out of five — 60 per cent — are 'depleted' in iron, which is the first stage in developing a deficiency.
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton, lead author of the paper, said; 'While the studies to date have focused on elite athletes, our research suggests that a chronic lack of iron is undermining the performance and potential of thousands of everyday exercise enthusiasts.'
Lack of iron limits oxygen transport around the body and takes the edge off your mental and physical performance.
Red meat is one of our richest and most useful sources of iron, a steak will provide three times more iron than chicken and 250 per cent more than broccoli.
The haem iron in red meat is also more readily absorbed than the non-haem form in plant sources.
Rin Cobb, co-author and clinical and sports performance dietitian adds: 'What's really shocking about this new research is that it shows how a supposedly very health-conscious group is actually undermining their performance and general health.'
'One of the easiest ways to beef-up your stamina is to increase your intake of red meat towards the recommended level of 70g a day.
'At present, women on average eat just 56g of red meat daily.'