How This Common Nutrient Deficiency Can Impact Your Energy + How To Fix It

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We are alive because of brilliant biochemistry. Every system of our body is intricately woven together and works synergistically to keep you healthy and thriving. But your body relies on a specific ratio of macro- and micronutrients to function properly.

Iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin in our blood. Hemoglobin’s main job is to transport oxygen to our cells, which without oxygen, can’t function. And not much else will either, considering our body is made up of cells. When you are deficient in iron you can experience a whole slew of symptoms. The most common include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low sex drive
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Pale skin
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Constantly cold
  • Brittle hair and/or fingernails
  • Shortness of breath

Iron deficiency affects over 1 billion people worldwide and is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. Iron is lost through sweat, urine, and menstruation, making athletes and menstruating women at particularly high risk for deficiency. In fact, 1 in four women struggle with iron deficiency with an estimated 26 percent of reproductive aged women deficient in this nutrient.

Those eating a vegan diet are also at a higher risk of developing iron deficiency. There are actually two different types of iron – heme and non-heme. Heme is found only in meat and is considered the most bioavailable source of iron, whereas non-heme is found in plant foods like dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds, and mushrooms. So, while you can definitely still get an adequate amount of nutrients from a vegan diet, you will have to be more strategic the ensure you are getting in everything your body needs to thrive.

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Iron deficiency vs. anemia

You can be deficient in iron without being anemic. Anemia is when your iron levels drop so low that it affects our hemoglobin production, but an earlier symptom of low iron is low ferritin levels in the blood. To determine if you are deficient you can look at iron two different ways. Serum iron, which measures the levels of iron currently circulating in your body, or ferritin which looks at the long-term iron storage in the body.

While we don’t want ferritin levels to be too high – this is correlated with increased inflammation – we don’t want them to be too low either, as that would be considered deficiency when even your iron stores are depleted.

It is also possible to be deficient in iron while still being within the range of what standard lab work considers normal. Working with a functional medicine practitioner who looks at a narrower reference range can determine if you are trending toward deficiency and if you can still benefit from a boost in iron to truly feel your best.

Ferritin – Optimal Range: Men: 33-236 ng/mL; Premenopausal women: 10-122 ng/mL; Postmenopausal women: 10-263 ng/mL


Even though I believe food is foundational, sometimes you need a little extra help to restore any nutrient deficiencies. But the problem with most iron supplements is that their absorption rate is poor and they can cause digestive distress. Therefore, it’s important to do your research when it comes to choosing what iron supplement to add into your wellness routine.

After years of searching for the best iron supplement, I came across Floradix Iron + Herbs and haven’t looked back since. Made with organically grown and ethically wild-crafted fruit juices, herbs rich in iron like spinach, kelp, and nettles, and vegetables in a liquid formula allows for enhanced absorption due to the fact it doesn’t require breakdown in the digestive tract.

As the best-selling natural liquid iron supplement in North America, Floradix® stands apart from the rest for its high quality and ability to help promote the formation of healthy red blood cells. Each serving also satisfies the recommended daily allowance of iron for women of childbearing age – one group of the population at higher risk for deficiency.

Their formula is also non-constipating, free of alcohol, synthetic preservatives, artificial additives, and lactose, and is kosher, non-gmo, and vegetarian. Plus, it is offered in a yeast- and gluten-free formula, Salus Floravital® Iron + Herbs, with the same great benefits as Floradix Iron + Herbs.

If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.


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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.

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