Friday, May 9, 2008

What can cause low iron levels?

A number of things can cause you to be low in iron:

Lack of iron in the diet. This is mostly a problem for children and young women. Children who drink a lot of milk and don't eat iron-rich foods and young women who follow "fad" diets may be at risk for iron deficiency.

Growth spurts. Children under age 3 are growing so fast that their bodies may have a hard time keeping up with the amount of iron they need.

Pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or who are breast feeding need 2½ times as much iron as men. That's why pregnant women may be tested for anemia and why they need to eat more iron-rich foods or take a daily iron pill.

Blood loss. This is a common reason for iron deficiency anemia in adults. Heavy periods may cause anemia. Blood loss can also be caused by internal bleeding, usually in the digestive tract. A stomach ulcer, ulcerative colitis, cancer, or taking aspirin or similar medicine for a long time can cause bleeding in your stomach or intestines. That's why it's important to find the reason for a low iron level.

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