Iron deficiency: 90% of young Indian women suffer from nutrient deficiency, experts warn

Iron deficiency is a widespread problem among young women, affecting nearly 90 per cent of them in India, doctors said on Sunday, stressing the need for timely detection of the condition.

Many women experience low iron levels without realizing it, often attributing symptoms like fatigue and weakness to other causes.
Iron deficiency is a common nutritional deficiency that occurs when the body does not have enough iron to support its functions.

This essential mineral plays a vital role in transporting oxygen throughout the body, maintaining healthy red blood cells, and supporting overall energy levels.

Without enough iron, individuals may experience fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and impaired cognitive function.

Dr. Rajesh Bendre, National Technical Head and Chief Pathologist, Apollo Diagnostics, said, “Iron deficiency in young women is a growing concern that is often ignored. Despite efforts to promote healthy eating and supplementation, 90 percent “Young women still struggle with inadequate iron levels.” , told IANS.

He said factors like menstrual blood loss, restrictive diet and heavy dependence on processed foods are the reasons behind the increase in iron deficiency in women.

Additionally, the doctor said that lack of education about iron-rich food sources and dietary requirements exacerbates the problem.

“It is important to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining adequate iron levels and provide accessible resources for proper nutrition education,” she said.

Many pregnant women also suffer from iron deficiency, which leads to low haemoglobin, anemia and its associated symptoms like weakness, shortness of breath and pale skin, the expert said.

“Iron deficiency is a serious concern in many pregnant women which can have far-reaching consequences. Apart from the immediate health risks to the mother such as anemia and fatigue, iron deficiency during pregnancy can also hinder the development of the fetus. Inadequate iron levels in expectant mothers can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight, which can affect the long-term health and cognitive development of the baby, Dr. Bendre said.

To overcome iron deficiency in pregnant women, merely giving iron tablets is not enough. Experts should educate women about the importance of regular prenatal checkups to monitor their iron levels during pregnancy, so that timely intervention can occur if deficiency occurs.

“Anemia is one of the most widespread public health problems and has significant health and well-being, social and economic consequences. These include reduced hours at work, poor concentration and low self-esteem, leading to reduced growth and, in severe cases, death. The risk increases. Dr Abhay Bhave, hematologist at Lilavati Hospital, told IANS: “Pregnant patients, especially at the time of delivery. Iron deficiency is found in about 50 to 60 percent of pregnant women.

The incidence of anemia is high in our population, especially in the student and marriageable age group.

The main causes of anemia are iron deficiency, poor nutrition or poor food intake, intestinal worm infection, blood loss in the intestines and blood loss during periods.

“Iron deficiency anemia can have catastrophic causes in the intestines including rare malignant diseases or malabsorption syndromes, which would require a different line of treatment to prevent recurrence. There are also other causes of anemia such as vitamin B 12 and folic acid deficiency, poor production in the bone marrow, and excessive destruction,” said Bhave.

According to Dr. Kekin Gala, gynecologist, Apollo Spectra Mumbai, fatigue and general weakness are often the first symptoms of iron deficiency.
“Paying attention to your menstrual cycle may also be important in diagnosis, as heavy menstruation can lead to iron deficiency and subsequent deficiency. Screening tests for iron deficiency include a complete blood count (CBC). , and additional tests such as serum ferritin and transferrin saturation. Can provide more specific information about iron levels in the body. Regular monitoring through these tests not only provides information about current iron status, but also supports preventive efforts against more serious complications associated with untreated deficiency,” Gala said.

Apart from supplements, Gala stressed the need to include iron-rich foods like spinach and lentils in the daily diet to help replenish iron levels naturally as well as in overall nutrition. Improvements can be made.

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