Iron Deficiency Versus Vitamin Deficiency
The human body requires many different vitamins and minerals to function properly, and unfortunately, it’s very common to develop a deficiency in one or more of them.
According to a CDC report, around 10 percent of the U.S. population has a nutrition deficiency, but this percentage is much higher for certain ethnic groups. The report revealed that vitamin B-6 is the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S., closely followed by iron in women between the ages of 12 and 49.
Here is a comparison of iron deficiency and other vitamin deficiencies and information about why correct diagnosis and treatment of a deficiency is so important.
Understanding Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiencies occur when bodily stores of iron are too low to support normal red blood cell production. Common causes of this deficiency include excessive iron loss through blood or urine or an inadequate dietary supply of iron. Symptoms of this type of deficiency include fatigue, cold intolerance, leg cramps, and a reduced resistance to infection.
Understanding Vitamin Deficiency
There are many types of vitamin deficiencies, and each one has its own causes, symptoms, and treatments. Although iron is the mineral that’s most associated with anemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, also known as megaloblastic anemia, exists as well. This form of anemia forms when the body doesn’t have enough vitamins to produce healthy red blood cells.
Folate deficiency anemia results with a lack of vitamin B-9 in the diet, and individuals with celiac disease and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are at a higher risk of developing this condition. Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia is common in vegans who do not consume meat, milk, or eggs. And vitamin C deficiency anemia is common among smokers because smoking impairs the body from absorbing this vitamin.
The symptoms of these types of vitamin deficiency anemias are similar to iron deficiency anemia and are commonly marked by fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, and numbness in the hands and feet. Aside from anemias, vitamin D deficiency is also common in the U.S. population, and vitamin D is required for strong bones by helping the body utilize calcium intake.
The Importance of Correct Diagnosis & Treatment
Effectively treating a dietary deficiency is contingent upon having the correct diagnosis to address the root of the problem. Diagnosed iron deficiencies may be treated with iron supplements like Fergon; however, iron supplements won’t necessarily treat the symptoms of a different kind of vitamin deficiency.
Many mild deficiencies can be treated by including more vitamin and mineral-rich foods into the diet. But only with proper testing by a trusted medical professional can one determine which additional foods are needed to achieve a well-balanced diet.
Long-Term Risks of Untreated Deficiencies
Untreated deficiencies of all kinds can lead to severe health conditions, which is why it’s crucial to seek medical attention when unexplained symptoms begin to affect daily life. For example, an untreated vitamin D deficiency can cause serious bone disorders, such as rickets, osteomalacia, and skeletal deformities. An untreated vitamin B-12 deficiency can result in disease of the spinal cord, nerves, and brain.
And if an iron deficiency is left untreated, reduced cognitive and motor skills may result, as well as compromised functioning of the heart. Physicians typically diagnose deficiencies by a simple blood test, so don’t delay consultation if any type of deficiency is suspected.
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