What Are Some Symptoms of Low Iron?

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Low iron levels in the body can lead to iron deficiency anemia, causing symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, pale skin, brittle nails, an inflamed tongue, restless legs syndrome and frequent infections, according to Mayo Clinic. The condition may cause cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as starch, and children often develop poor appetites.

An insufficient amount of iron in the body often goes undetected until symptoms of iron deficiency anemia appear, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state. Iron deficiency gradually impairs important bodily functions and can interfere with motor skills and cognitive and social development in babies and young children. A person suffering from the deficiency may frequently feel weak and tired and perform less productively at work or school.

With an adequate supply of iron, the body is able to circulate oxygen to cell tissue in important organs and produce essential enzymes that control major bodily functions, according to the CDC. Increasingly low iron levels hinder the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and the body’s ability to perform normal motor functions and regulate internal temperature. Children and pregnant women have higher iron needs, resulting in a higher risk of developing a deficiency. Menstruation causes blood loss, making all girls of child-bearing age more susceptible than most men.