Iron Deficiency

Lack of iron is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide

Common causes include:


poor diet


low absorption of iron


vegan and vegetarian diet


heavy periods (for women)

If your need for dietary iron isn’t met, your body’s iron stores will become depleted. This can lead to iron deficiency and, if severely depleted, anaemia

Symptoms to look out for

This is not a comprehensive list and it’s important you discuss your symptoms with your doctor or pharmacist before undertaking iron treatment.

You may lack energy

Your skin may be pale

You may be unable to do very physical tasks

Consistent headaches

Shortness of breath

You might find it hard to concentrate and find learning difficult


Brittle fingernails

Coldness in your hands and feet

How do I know I’m iron deficient for sure?

The only definitive way to find out is to have a blood test and you’ll need to see your doctor to see if this is the right course of action.

Girl at doctor's office.

Who is most at risk?








Vegans & Vegetarians

Women need more iron because of blood loss during their periods. They also need more than double the usual intake of iron during pregnancy.

Adolescents  need extra nutrients to fuel growth spurts, but they are also more likely to have a poor diet.

Iron is lost through excessive sweating and some athletes (particularly those for whom weight is an issue) may have unbalanced diets.

Iron in plant foods is not as easily absorbed as iron found in meat. If you are vegetarian or vegan it is more likely that you will not be getting enough iron.