Iron Deficiency and Anxiety

Iron Deficiency and Anxiety
Iron Deficiency and Anxiety
Iron is a mineral that our body needs to carry oxygen through the system. When we do not have enough iron we may experience symptoms similar to anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, having an iron deficiency may mean that your anxiety symptoms feel worse.

Written by: Laura Crawford

Iron is a mineral that our body needs to carry oxygen through the system.  When we do not have enough iron we may experience symptoms similar to anxiety such as:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Feelings of weakness
  • Cold hands and feet

If you suffer from anxiety, having an iron deficiency may mean that your anxiety symptoms feel worse.  Your heart may start beating rapidly even at rest, and you may find it harder to breathe.  This can cause a feeling of panic as your mind tries to find where the danger is, when in reality your body is telling you that it needs more iron.

While there are supplements available, it is best to get a blood test from your doctor first.  Having a blood test will help you find the correct dose for your needs and will give you a baseline measurement to help you monitor whether the supplements are working.  If you decide to take iron supplements, make sure you take them with food as iron can irritate your stomach.  Also, make sure to take it away from calcium containing foods as calcium binds to iron and prevents its absorption.

If you are looking for a way to incorporate more iron into your diet, there are many food sources of iron available including:

  • Beef
  • Chicken liver
  • Eggs
  • Mung beans
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Pumpkin seeds 
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Enriched cereals (check the label on the box)

Iron deficiency can affect anyone but is most common in menstruating females, pregnant women, and vegans or vegetarians.  There are two main tests to check for iron deficiency – a blood test called a CBC (complete blood count) which screens your general health and ferritin which measures your iron storage.  

Check with your doctor to determine whether an iron deficiency is contributing to your anxiety symptoms. While the symptoms can be quite difficult, most people who start treatment find their quality of life improves greatly. 

 


Laura Crawford began her career in healthcare in 2011, practicing naturopathic medicine for seven years with a focus on mind-body connection.  She has also included additional coursework including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  Laura is currently pursuing psychotherapy education at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto. 

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