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Iron deficiency

Not having enough iron in one's blood can stem from one of three main reasons.

From the Field

What causes a loss of iron in your blood levels?

HPRC's Answer

Iron deficiency

Iron is a major mineral that is found in all cells of the body. Iron is essential to form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

There are three main reasons for not having enough iron in your blood: 1) blood loss; 2) poor iron intake from your diet; and 3) an inability to absorb iron from foods. All three can cause iron-deficiency anemia.

Blood loss: Bleeding inside the body can cause blood loss, which may result in a loss of iron and lead to iron-deficiency anemia. Causes of internal bleeding may include a bleeding ulcer, colon polyp, colon cancer, urinary tract bleeding, and regular use of aspirin or other medicines. Other causes of blood loss are menstrual bleeding, pregnancy, or injury. In developing countries, intestinal parasitic infection also can cause blood loss.

Poor iron intake: Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are great sources of iron; in addition, there are many iron-fortified foods such as cereals and breads. When these foods are not eaten regularly, iron intake may not be adequate to support the needs of the body.

Iron absorption: Some people cannot absorb the iron consumed from their diet, even though intake may be adequate. Possible reasons could be intestinal surgery or intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s Disease or celiac disease. Prescription medicines that reduce stomach acid can reduce iron absorption.

The cause of iron deficiency should be diagnosed by a physician; left untreated, it can result in serious consequences.