Iron is essential for us as it helps us to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.
If you have a lack of iron, this can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. It is believed that 1 in 6 people in the UK suffers from iron-deficiency anaemia.
Where do we get iron from?
The primary way we get iron in our bodies is through food. Good sources of iron identified by the NHS include:
- beans, such as chickpeas, edamame beans, and red kidney beans
- dried fruit, such as apricots
- fortified breakfast cereals
- red meat
- soybean flour
How much iron do I need?
According to the NHS, the amount of iron needed is:
- 8.7mg a day for men over 18
- 14.8mg a day for women aged 18 to 50
- 8.7mg a day for women over 50
You should be able to get all the iron you need by eating a balanced and varied diet.
If you take iron supplements for any reason, be careful not to take too much, as this can be harmful. The side effects associated with taking high doses of over 20mg of iron include:
- Feeling and being sick
- Stomach pain
What is iron deficiency anaemia?
If you have too little iron in your blood, this can cause iron deficiency anaemia. This is a condition where the blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. This can leave you feeling tired and short of breath.
Common symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia include:
- Brittle nails
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Extreme fatigue
- Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
- Pale skin
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children
- Unusual cravings for substances that are not nutritious, such as ice or starch
How can I check my iron levels at home?
Measuring specific biomarkers in the blood, such as ferritin, is a simple indicator of iron deficiency. You can do this in the comfort of your own home with the Test2Go Iron Level Test.
This test detects the level of ferritin in your blood within minutes from a simple finger prick blood sample. You will have your result on the spot within minutes, and a confirmatory laboratory certificate will also be sent to your patient portal.
The advantage of this self-test is that it can be carried out by yourself in privacy, ensuring confidentiality – while highlighting if there is a potential need for you to take further steps to manage your personal health.
Our test is for advisory purposes only. It is not a medical diagnosis.
NB. It is important to note that our tests are not a substitute for seeing a doctor, particularly if you have symptoms. It would help if you did not make a diagnosis or start any treatment without a consultation with a doctor or a suitably trained health professional.