Iron Deficiency & Shortness of Breath: What’s the Connection 

Iron deficiency is something that a surprisingly high number of people have to deal with and oftentimes it goes under the radar. People who suffer from an iron deficiency might not be feeling great and not realize what’s causing their problems.  

The medical term for this condition is anemia and it can manifest itself in a number of different ways. The reason why it isn’t clear for a lot of people that anemia is the root of the issue is because these same symptoms can be caused by other afflictions too. 

Most relevant to us right now of course is how it affects your breathing. Anemia will cause shortness of breath in some people and a lot of people don’t realize that this is one of the possible symptoms.  

Shortness of breath can be caused by a lot of different things. From relatively benign things such as an allergic reaction to something unexpected and anxiety to much more serious problems like heart failure or a pulmonary embolism. 

The reason why it’s so common in anemic patients is relatively straightforward. Your body’s iron count contributes to a protein known as hemoglobin, which enables your red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.  

Your muscles require oxygen for energy. Even the most basic physical activities such as walking or climbing stairs take a certain amount of energy and if there isn’t enough oxygen being pumped around your body then these daily activities won’t be as easy.  

Physical exertion will increase as your body tries to get more oxygen into your blood system to combat the lack of energy. And so, people who are suffering from anemia will find themselves breathless while doing the most basic of tasks.  

So while you should always make sure that you check up on something like shortness of breath because it could potentially be something very serious, if it’s caused by anemia it’s not something to be too concerned about.  

And this is because anemia is a relatively easy thing to fix. Of course, getting yourself tested is the only way to know for sure what’s causing your breathlessness but if might be an iron deficiency if you’re also experiencing:  

  • Paleness
  • Dry Skin
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Brittle Fingernails. 

But once again, even if you have all of these problems don’t just assume that you’re anemic and try to deal with it yourself because it could be something else. Also, even though it’s not immediately life-threatening, you should still take anemia seriously and seek treatment. 

If you leave it untreated it can actually have long-term consequences for your health, sometimes devastatingly so. So definitely do go to the doctor if you have these symptoms but here are some foods that can help increase your iron levels anyway:  

Red Meat  
A 3 oz serving of red meat will amount to almost 20% of your daily iron intake, and it also comes with the benefit of several other nutrients. You’ll also get zinc, protein and Vitamin B from a serving of red meat.  

Broccoli & Spinach  
I know a lot of people reading this probably aren’t too fond of broccoli and may have never even tasted spinach, but they’re both well worth it. And it’s not just for the iron, they’re also high in Vitamin D which will actually help your body to absorb iron more efficiently.  

Fish is probably the food you first thought of when you started looking into iron because it’s well-known for being high in the stuff. The best kinds of fish for the job are tuna, mackerel, haddock and sardines.  

Blackstrap Molasses
You may not have heard of this stuff before. Blackstrap Molasses is made from the sugar cane plant which is first mashed into juice and then boiled to create a syrup which we call molasses. 1 tablespoon of it amounts to almost a quarter of your recommended daily iron intake. 

Another food that’s notorious for its iron content and one of the more adaptable foods out there too. You can incorporate legumes into so many different dishes. If you’re unfamiliar, legumes include things like lentils, peas and various different kinds of beans. 

In addition to those foods, if you feel like you need a little bit extra then you can also add a supplement to your diet. Some serious cases will require a prescription iron supplement but you could also try something like an E3Live product, which is packed with vitamins and minerals, iron included. 

I’ve said this a couple of times now and I’ll stress it once more, if you’ve regularly got shortness of breath then TAKE OUR FREE BREATHING TESTS or just go to a health professional, such as a chiropractor or preventive medicine MD, someone who can do bloodwork. It might be anemia and you might be able to fix it with a diet change, but it could be something worse so get yourself checked.