10 Signs You Have an Iron Deficiency

Apathy toward anything — even an episode of "The Bachelor" — could contribute.

ByABC News
March 4, 2014, 2:01 PM
Be on the lookout for these warning signs of iron deficiency.
Be on the lookout for these warning signs of iron deficiency.
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

March 4, 2014— -- intro: About 9 percent of women suffer from an iron deficiency, according to the most recent stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—but that number's even higher for physically active women, say experts.

How can you tell if your levels are a little low? Be on the lookout for these 10 warning signs.

quicklist: 1category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Fatigueurl:text: “The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen,” says Blaire Morriss, a nurse practitioner at the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health. When you don't have enough healthy blood cells, you start to feel exhausted.

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quicklist: 2category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Difficulty Focusingurl:text: Neurotransmitter synthesis may be altered in people with an iron deficiency, leading to lower-than-normal functionality, says Morriss.

quicklist: 3category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Apathyurl:text: Another byproduct of that altered neurotransmitter synthesis? Apathy toward anything and everything—friends, family, work, even the latest episode of "The Bachelor," says Morriss.

quicklist: 4category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Breathlessnessurl:text: This can happen whether you’re at the gym or simply walking to your car—but why? “Without enough iron in the blood, the body becomes starved for oxygen," says Kimberly Mueller, R.D., owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition Coaching.

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quicklist: 5category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Unusually Pale Skinurl:text: Look like a Twilight extra lately? That's not a good sign. “A washed-out appearance can be caused by reduced blood flow and decreased number of red blood cells,” says Mueller.

quicklist: 6category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Trouble Doing Your Normal Workouturl:text: Struggling to do the same number of reps you whizzed through a few weeks ago—even though you haven't been slacking off on your workouts? Low iron levels can cause your endurance to suffer, according to a recent Cornell study.

quicklist: 7category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Crazy-Sore Musclesurl:text: If you actually do drag yourself to the gym, you'll probably feel the burn for longer than normal afterward: Not having enough iron deprives your muscles of their ability to recover properly, leading to achiness.

quicklist: 8category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Brittle Nailsurl:text: Even the cutest mani/pedi can’t hide thin, frail fingernails and toenails. Another way your tips can tip you off to a possible iron deficiency: a concave or spoon-shaped depression in the nails.

quicklist: 9category: Signs You're Low on Irontitle: Pink or Red Urineurl:text: We saved the weirdest for last. Beeturia is what happens when you eat beets and excrete reddish urine. While this occurs in 10 to 14 percent of normal people, Morriss says the number is much higher in people with an iron deficiency and is caused by increased intestinal absorption of certain pigments.

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