What happens if you do not get enough iron?


Quick Answer

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, iron deficiency can delay infant motor and mental function, cause pre-term birth during pregnancy and create fatigue and decreased mental function in adults. Lack of iron in the body is the leading cause of anemia and the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States.

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Full Answer

One cause for lack of iron in the body results from an increased need for iron due to circumstances such as rapid growth in childhood or infancy, pregnancy, loss of blood due to heavy menstruation, frequent blood donation or some intestinal conditions, according to the CDC. The other main cause for lack of iron in the body is due to decreased iron intake or absorption in the body.

According to the CDC, common sources of iron in the diet include meat, poultry and fish, as well as some vegetables and beans. Young children between the ages of six months and three years are most at risk for iron deficiency. Adolescent girls and women of child-bearing age are at risk of iron deficiency due to menstruation. Children who drink more than 24 ounces of cow, goat or soy milk daily are also at increased risk, as excessive milk consumption can interfere with iron absorption and decrease a child's desire for items high in iron, such as meats and iron-fortified cereals.

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