Here's How to Tell if You're Iron Deficient

Low levels of iron can leave you feeling tired and sore. Learn common symptoms—and how to boost your iron levels.

Iron is your blood's powerhouse. It helps make hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that transports oxygen and carbon dioxide.

When you're low in iron, you become anemic, which means that you're low on red blood cells and aren't transporting oxygen efficiently. Symptoms of low iron levels include:

  • Fatigue and feelings of weakness
  • Pale skin and fingernails
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • An inflamed tongue (also known as glossitis)

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. The good news is that you can get most of what your body needs through proper nutrition. Some of the best sources of dietary iron are:

  • Lean beef and pork
  • Turkey and chicken
  • Fish

If you're a vegetarian or vegan, look for iron in:

  • Beans
  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach
  • Fortified cereals
  • Enriched rice
  • Whole-grain and enriched breads
Bowl of meat and bean chili topped with shredded cheese

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