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  • Writer's pictureKayla Ruschkowski

What is the most common nutrient deficiency?

Did you know that iron is the most common nutrient deficiency? It most commonly affects women of reproductive age.

Iron has multiple functions in more than 180 biochemical reactions in the human body. Causes of iron deficiency include blood loss, poor absorption of iron, or lack of dietary iron. Low iron stores can negatively affect our mood, energy, athletic performance, cognitive performance, and overall health. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale skin, hair loss, and muscle weakness and soreness.

If you think you may be iron deficient, the first step is to talk to a healthcare provider about your symptoms and they may test your iron levels. Kamloops naturopath Dr. Kayla Ruschkowski looks to see ferritin (iron stores) above 50 for most people.

Food contains iron in 2 forms: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in meat, fish and poultry and is more easily absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is found in a variety of plant foods and is not absorbed as well. People who eat less animal products will want to be aware of how to optimize iron absorption from non-heme sources if they are iron deficient. Here are some tips:

  • Eat iron rich foods at the same time as Vitamin C rich foods like fruits and vegetables

  • Cook with cast-iron cookware to increase the amount of iron in foods

  • Tea and coffee will decrease iron absorption

  • Calcium-rich foods and eggs will also decrease iron absorption

Kamloops Naturopath Dr. Kayla most often recommends a heme iron supplement because it is the most well absorbed and is the least likely to cause side effects like nausea, stomach ache, and constipation. If you have been taking iron supplements for several months it is important to re-test your iron levels to ensure your supplement is working for you and/or that you still need to take it.

If you would like to discuss symptoms of iron deficiency, lab work, or iron supplements, book a visit with Dr. Kayla ND.


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