Iron Deficiency Anemia

“1 in every 3 women have iron deficiency anemia”

It is a condition when there is a decrease in the number of Red Blood Cells(RBC) in the body. As the body doesn’t have enough iron.

The Human body uses iron to make hemoglobin found in red blood cells, which help to transfer oxygen to different parts of the body. About 70% of the body’s iron is found in RBC.

Iron deficiency anemia

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats
  • Pale skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Tongue swelling or soreness
  • Pale skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Craving for ice

What causes Iron Deficiency Anemia?

  • Blood loss due to menstruation.
  • Less iron intake.
  • Internal bleeding.
  • The inability of the body to absorb iron from food.
  • Tumors in the body interfere with the production of red blood cells in the blood.

Tests to diagnose the iron content in the body?

  1. Complete Blood Cell(CBC) test: It gives information about the cells present in the blood.
  2. Hemoglobin Test: It gives the count of the number of Red Blood Cells(RBC) present in the blood. 
  3.  normal hemoglobin levels for adult women 12.0 to 15.5 g/dl, for men 13.5 to 17.5 g/dl, for kids 11-13 g/dl. Hemoglobin less than 10 g/dl is considered as IDA.
  4. Hematocrit: It gives the  Ratio of RBC to the total volume of blood, the normal percentage in kids 42%, in women 34.9 to 44.5%, for men 38.8 to 50%. 
  5. Mass Corpuscular Volume(MCV) test: It gives the average of Red Blood Cells in the blood.
  6. Serum Ferritin: Ferritin is a protein that stores iron in the body, this test gives the amount of iron stored in the body.
  7. Transferrin test: It is a protein that transfers iron in the body, this test gives the amount of transferrin in the blood.

How much iron can a human body store?

  1. Women on average can store 300mg of iron which is enough for  6 months.
  2. Adult men can store 1000mg of iron which is enough for 3 years.

How many people suffer from Iron Deficiency Anemia?

  • World wide 30% of the population suffers from IDA, in which 46% are men and 54% are women.
  • In India, 58.6% of children, 53.2% of non-pregnant women, 50.4% of pregnant women, 24.2% of men suffer from IDA. 

How much amount of iron to consume in a day?

The upper limit of taking iron is 40-45mg for both children and adults, as the body stores iron for later uses.

Daily intake of iron for IDA

 Treatment for Iron Deficiency Anemia:

  •  Diet:

      Add foods that are rich in iron to your diet.

      Dietary iron is of two types:

  1. Heme iron: This type of iron is found in animal products like chicken, beef, pork, and the human body can absorb 15-30% of heme iron.
  2. Non-Heme iron: This type of iron is found in both animal and plant products like green leafy vegetables, millets, seeds, nuts. The human body can absorb 5-15% of non-heme iron.

Note: Vegetarians are prone to IDA as their body cannot absorb more iron from their foods.

Foods rich in iron:
Animal products:

Most of the meat has a good amount of iron content but animal organs have a very high amount of iron in them.

100 grams of chicken liver contains 11 mg of iron

100 grams of shellfish contain 3 mg of iron.


vegetables have a high content of iron when compared to animal products.

Few vegetables have vitamin C in them which helps the body to absorb more iron.

Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms are rich in iron

100 grams of spinach contains 2.7 mg of iron.


Grains like rolled oats, barley, quinoa, barley, finger millet are rich in iron. Containing 3-5 mg of iron per 100 grams

100 grams of rolled oats contain 4.25 mg of iron.

100 grams of quinoa contains 4.75 mg of iron.


Pumpkin, sesame, flax, chia, poppy seeds have a high amount of iron content in them, containing 7-15 mg of iron per 100 grams.

100 grams of pumpkin seeds have 14.96 mg of iron.


Nuts like cashew, pistachio, almonds, peanuts have a decent amount of iron.

100 grams of pistachio contains 14 mg of iron.


Spices like cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, thyme, oregano are very rich sources of iron.

100 mg of cumin contains 66 mg of iron

  • Iron supplements:

Iron supplements help to restore iron levels in the body, it is recommended to take iron supplements after consulting with a doctor.