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Iron Deficiency Anemia

February 18, 2022
5 min read
Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron plays a crucial role in transporting oxygen to various parts of your body. It is a major component of the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in blood and myoglobin in muscle. Recent studies suggest iron is critical for your mental wellbeing, and your emotional behavior is strongly affected by the iron level in your body. In addition, it is part of many other proteins and enzymes in our body, and it even helps boost immunity and improve energy levels.


The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron is 29 mg/day for women and 19 mg/day for men.

Prevalence and Diagnosis

More than 50% of women and children across India are diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. Although iron deficiency anemia is a common nutritional disorder, many people are unaware of it until they have symptoms for years. Iron deficiency anemia develops when iron levels in your body drop too low to support normal red blood cell (RBC) production. Normal ranges of Hemoglobin(Hb) for males are 140-175 g/L and for females 123-153g/L respectively.A level below this may result in anemia 1. Serum ferritin is another test which helps in diagnosing anemia. Normal levels of ferritin will be 40 to 300 mg/L for men and 20 to 200 mg/L for women 2.

Iron deficiency anemia symptoms include feeling tired, trouble sleeping, fast heart rate etc.,

What are the symptoms and signs?

People vary considerably in their propensity to anemia and the symptoms they may experience due to becoming anemic. Common symptoms of anemia regardless of the cause include:

  • fatigue
  • lethargy
  • shortness of breath on exercise
  • palpitations
  • sore tongue
  • recurrent mouth ulceration
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • cravings for non-nutritious foods
  • cold hands and feet
  • loss or change in appetite

Common outward signs of anemia include

  • pale appearance
  • changes in the formation of the tongue, which may have a smooth appearance
  • cracking at the corners of the mouth (angular stomatitis)
  • fingernails that are spoon-shaped, easily split, or brittle
  • mild diffuse loss of scalp hair in women (alopecia)

What can lead to iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is widespread, especially among women and in people who have a low iron diet. The American Society for Haematology has identified the following individuals at high risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia.

  • Women who menstruate, mainly if menstrual periods are heavy
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or those who have recently given birth
  • Individuals who have undergone major surgery or physical trauma
  • People who have undergone bariatric procedures, especially gastric bypass operations
  • People with gastrointestinal diseases such as celiac disease (sprue), inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, or crohn disease
  • Individuals with peptic ulcer disease
  • Vegetarians, vegans, and other people whose diets do not include iron-rich foods (Iron from vegetables, even those that are iron-rich, is not absorbed as well as iron from meat, poultry, and fish.)

Other less common causes of iron deficiency include:

  • Blood losses due to various gastrointestinal disorders or chronic diseases.

How can you improve your iron levels?

The treatment of iron deficiency anemia involves identifying the root cause and improving the iron levels through supplementation or diet.


Supplementing with iron tablets is an effective therapy to improve iron levels in the body. Low gastric pH facilitates rapid iron absorption, which means the supplements have to be taken on an empty stomach without any food. Supplements should be continued for a few months till the hemoglobin has returned to normal levels. Using oral supplements can cause constipation, nausea, and black-colored stools 3.


Iron rich foods include palak, beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, brocolli, fish, and red meat

To avoid such side effects, you can improve the quality of your diet by eating iron-rich foods.

  • Eating a diet rich in iron and vitamin C helps overcome the deficiency.
  • The inclusion of iron-rich plant-based foods such as palak, beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, broccoli, dates, figs, and animal foods such as fish, red meat, organ meats helps prevent iron deficiency.
  • Foods high in vitamin C such as lemon, orange, sweet lime, guava, amla helps in the absorption of iron.
  • Reducing the intake of tea and coffee along with meals is also very effective in improving iron levels.

How the Hint app helps in improving iron levels?

Now you can recover faster from iron deficiency using the Hint app. Go to the recipes section of the app and explore a curated list of iron-rich recipes. Find the iron-rich foods you like and include them in your diet. Track your daily iron intake by logging your meals and checking out the diet summary.

Contact us at +91 888 666 7634 or support@clearcals.com for any questions.


1.Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology. 14th ed. Greer J, editor. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer: 2019

2.Iron-Deficiency Anemia | NHLBI, NIH

3.Govindappagari S, Burwick RM. Treatment of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnancy with Intravenous versus Oral Iron: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Am J Perinatol. 2019 Mar;36(4):366-376.

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