The Daily Nutrition

13 Signs and Symptoms That You Have an Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency happens when your body doesn’t have enough iron it’s system.

Your body needs iron so having an iron deficiency is something that’s going to have a major effect on how your body functions.

However, having an iron deficiency isn’t something that you always know you have. There are ways to tell that you have it. There are symptoms and signs that your body is lacking the iron it needs.

What are these signs and symptoms?

Are they preventable?

13 Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Below are going to be signs that your body might have an iron deficiency.

Not having enough iron in your system is usually directly linked to your diet. You can get iron through having a healthy diet.

However, if you look at the average person’s diet, it’s more than likely lacking some iron, but typically not enough to cause an iron deficiency.

Having an iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia. This means that your red blood cells aren’t going to be able to carry as much oxygen to your tissues. Obviously, oxygen is a vital part of our lives so if you aren’t getting the oxygen you need, you can see how this will lead to significant problems.

Before you allow this to happen, check to make sure that you don’t have an iron deficiency with these signs and symptoms:


Having pale skin can mean that you have an iron deficiency.

No, this doesn’t mean that if you’ve seemed pale your entire life that you have an iron deficiency. This just means that if your skin is unusually pale. You appear a bit under the weather.

It’s going to happen all over your body and not just in your face. Your skin just isn’t going to look as healthy as it should.

This is due in part because iron plays a huge role in the body’s development of hemoglobin. Having hemoglobin is going to give blood its color which is then going to lead to the healthier looking skin.

So, you can say if your skin isn’t looking healthy or has some kind of glow to it, then you might have an iron deficiency.


symptoms of iron deficiency

Now, when I say tiredness, I mean you feeling more tired than you usually and for a longer time.

The reason you’re feeling tired is that your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs.

Iron is needed for your body to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in your red blood cells and helps carry oxygen throughout your body.

When you have a lack of oxygen, your body isn’t going to be functioning the way it should. This is going to make you tired.

When it comes to iron deficiency, this is a hard symptom to determine because we usually get tired throughout a normal day anyway. This is why it’s important to pay attention to your fatigue.

If you don’t have the energy you usually do then you could have an iron deficiency.


A symptom of iron deficiency is headaches.

You may have frequent or recurring headaches and even some light-headedness.

Remember, iron deficiency isn’t going to allow your body to get as much oxygen as it needs. So, this means that your brain isn’t getting the oxygen it needs to fully function. This is going to lead to pain in your head.

This is another symptom of iron deficiency that can be hard to determine if this is the real reason because headaches can occur for a multitude of reasons.

So if you’re having headaches, monitor them before making the final conclusion that you have an iron deficiency.

Heart Palpitations

iron deficiency symptoms

A heart palpitation is a noticeable heartbeat. This is when you can feel your heart eating without checking for a pulse.

Having an iron deficiency means that your body is getting less oxygen transported throughout. This means less oxygen is getting to vital organs. Some of these organs are then going to need to work harder to do the same work that it usually does.

This symptom of iron deficiency means that your heart is having to work harder than it should.

It can feel like you’re on a light jog when you’re just sitting down. This isn’t something that you want.

The only reason that this isn’t going to be much of an issue is that this usually only happens when you’ve been iron deficient for a long duration of time. So, hopefully, you’re able to realize you’re iron deficient prior to this happening.

Shortness of Breath

Because your body will be lacking oxygen when you have an iron deficiency, everything is going to work harder than usual.

Think of oxygen as oil and your body as a machine. When your body is lacking the oil it needs, certain parts are going to have to work harder to perform the same functions it normally does.

A task as simple as walking up a flight of stairs can cause you to get tired since your body is really having to work to get up each step.

You will start taking more breaths because your body is trying to get more oxygen. An iron deficiency means that your body is going to work more to get more oxygen since it can’t carry as much oxygen through itself as it should.

Swelling of Tongue

iron deficiency

Iron deficiency symptoms can include the swelling of your tongue. It’s not going to get swollen to the point where you can’t close your mouth, but you will be able to tell a difference.

On top of that, you can probably expect your tongue to look a bit pale and smooth. Your tongue should never be smooth.

You can most definitely assume that you have an iron deficiency if you notice this.

Dryness of Skin

If you have an iron deficiency, not only will your skin start to look a bit sickly, it will become very dry.

When your skin is deprived of oxygen, it’s going to become weak. Weak skin leads to dry skin.

The same holds true for your hair. When you have an iron deficiency, your body will have less oxygen flowing so your hair will suffer along with your skin.

Some of you may naturally have dry skin and hair already, but an iron deficiency will cause for this symptom to be amplified a little bit.

Brittle Fingernails

If your fingernails are starting to crack and break pretty easily, then you could possibly have an iron deficiency.

This is a less common symptom of iron deficiency, but it’s definitely something that you should pay attention to.

Iron deficiency has a lot of symptoms but this is one that rarely occurs. However, if you have a noticeable change in your fingernails, you should get checked for an iron deficiency.

Restless Leg Syndrome

If you’ve never heard of restless leg syndrome, it’s the uncontrollable urge to move your legs. For example, if you’re sitting in a chair and your legs are bouncing nonstop then you may have restless leg syndrome.

This has been associated with iron deficiency anemia.

Although the two aren’t directly associated, people with an iron deficiency are known to have a higher risk of experiencing restless leg syndrome.

Cold Hands and Feet

iron deficiency

Some of us may always have cold hands and feet. This could be because of an iron deficiency.

Iron deficiencies mean that we have less oxygen flowing. Blood flow isn’t going to be nearly as effective as it could be.

When your blood flow is off, you’re going to experience a coldness at the tips of your extremities.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an iron deficiency, though.


We all have a craving from time to time. Whether it be for a piece of chocolate or something else that’s sweet. That’s to be expected.

However, when you have an iron deficiency, you can expect to have cravings for stuff that you typically wouldn’t have a craving for.

For example, ice can be something that you all of a sudden get a craving for.

If you’re a woman that’s pregnant, though, you can probably assume that your cravings aren’t due to an iron deficiency.

Frequent Infections

Iron needs to be a part of your body if you want to have a healthy immune system. If you want your body to have success with fighting sickness then you need iron.

If you feel yourself getting sick relatively frequently then you can assume that an iron deficiency is partially to blame.

Feeling Anxious

Having feelings of anxiety could be due to a lack of iron in your system. Iron deficiencies have been known cause some anxious feelings in people.

When people added more iron to their system, they saw the feelings of anxiety severely drop.

Fixing Iron Deficiency

The good thing about being iron deficient is that you can fix it.

You aren’t going to need to go through any extreme measures to fix your iron deficiency either.

Eat More Iron

iron deficiency

I don’t mean to literally eat iron, but foods that are rich in iron.

Here is a list of foods you should look at if you’re iron deficient:

  • Red Meat
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Dark Leafy Greens
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Nuts

Iron Supplements

Supplements are a good way to get any kind of vitamin or mineral that may be lacking in your diet.

If you need an iron supplement,take a look here.

They’re an easy way to get an extra boost of iron when you find yourself to be iron deficient.

Iron Deficient No More

When you find yourself to have an iron deficiency, it’s nothing that you should truly worry about. There are much worse things that can be happening to you.

However, it is something that you should try to correct ASAP.

There are plenty of ways for you to get the iron you need. Don’t let these iron deficiency symptoms scare you. Let them fuel you to become a healthier person.

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