Signs & Symptoms of Low Vitamin D and Low Iron

Signs & Symptoms of Low Vitamin D and Low Iron

For various reasons, you may not get enough vitamin D and iron, both of which are essential to your health. Knowing the signs of deficiency and when to test your levels helps prevent and reverse conditions that may develop due to inadequate supply. Talk to your doctor if you suspect you may be low. He will run tests and discuss options, which may include dietary changes, supplements or injections.

Roles in Health
Your body needs the right amount of iron and vitamin D. Too much or too little can have a negative effect on your health. Iron is necessary for proper growth, development, cellular function and production of certain hormones. It's also a main component of hemoglobin -- a protein that delivers oxygen throughout your body. Vitamin D, on the other hand, works synergistically with calcium to keep your bones healthy and aids in making sure your body absorbs enough calcium. It also keeps your immune system functioning properly and reduces inflammation.

Low Vitamin D
Because vitamin D is found in only a few foods, it's difficult to get enough through diet alone, according to the Vitamin D Council. You're at risk of deficiency if you have dark skin, spend too much time indoors or are pregnant, obese or live in northern U.S. states, which get less intense sunlight. Not everyone who is low in vitamin D has symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include fatigue and general aches and pains. A doctor can test your levels to determine if you're getting enough.

Low Iron
Poor diet, problems absorbing iron from your diet and blood loss can prevent you from getting enough iron. Three key stages lead from low iron to iron-deficiency anemia, with the first stage beginning when your body needs more iron than you're taking in or absorbing. When this happens, stored iron is used. In later stages, when stored iron is depleted, your body has trouble making red blood cells. Anemia occurs when your red blood count falls below normal. You may not notice symptoms in the initial stages, but in later stages you may experience symptoms including fatigue, low exercise tolerance, trouble regulating your temperature and reduced cognitive function.

Sources and Recommended Intake
Unless you're a strict vegetarian, your diet provides two types of iron -- heme found mainly in meat and nonheme, which you get primarily from plants. Foods like fortified cereals, oysters, white beans, beef liver, lentils and spinach all contain iron. The recommended intake for nonvegetarian adults under age 50 is 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women. Because heme iron is better absorbed than nonheme, vegetarians require 1.8 times more than people who eat meat, which comes out to 14 milligrams and 32 milligrams for vegetarian men and women under 50, respectively. Where vitamin D is concerned, your body produces it from sunlight exposure, and it's found in foods like swordfish, salmon, tuna, liver, eggs, milk and cheese. The recommended intake for adults under 70 is 600 international units per day.