Do you struggle with a chill in your bones during the winter? Can an iron deficiency cause cold feet? Let’s find out!
Iron is a vital mineral that the body requires in order to carry oxygen around. It has been found that when there is not enough iron in your diet, the tiny blood vessels inside your nose and ears shrink from lack of oxygen.
This causes them to become cold and circulation to become inhibited.
In fact, one study found that people with lower levels of ferritin (a marker for how much iron someone has) are more likely to have unhealthy levels of nitric oxide, which means they are also more susceptible to having issues with too much blood flow around their head and brain.
Studies have also shown that the body loses a percentage of its iron every single day, so it is common for our stores to be on the low side. The amount lost varies, but on average, women are at higher risk and lose more iron than men do.
Factors that Increase Risk of Losing Iron
Having loose bowels (it tends to be lost in your stools)
Being female (as mentioned above) or elderly with poor circulation
Taking aspirin or other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in high doses
Having a diet low in iron-rich foods.
These are just some factors that can lead to iron deficiency. There are others, and the best way to know if you are at risk is with a blood test.
Iron Deficiency Symptoms
Pale skin, coldness of hands and feet, and constant fatigue are the most common symptoms of an iron deficiency. The body needs this mineral to produce red blood cells and carry oxygen around the body, and when it is lacking, it will try to compensate by getting rid of what it has in its reserves.
This leaves you feeling tired and lethargic, making it difficult for you to do things like exercise or concentrate when you need to be alert. It also means that your immune system may suffer as a result.
How to Increase Iron Levels
If you feel that you may have an iron deficiency, it is good to have your doctor check your levels. They will be able to recommend treatments for it or suggest supplements for you to take. Things that can help boost your body’s iron stores include:
• Taking supplements such as ferrous sulfate or ferrous gluconate on a regular basis (after consulting with your doctor!)
• Drinking plenty of fluids – e.g., tea and coffee – can help increase the amount of iron in your diet.
• Changing your diet – choose food that is high in iron and/or foods that will improve your absorption of it (e.g., Vitamin C-rich foods).
One reason for the link between cold feet and a lack of iron could be due to an increase in blood flow to the extremities to help warm them up, which causes more oxygen to flow there.
The reduction of this blood flow can cause a “rebound effect”, which may result in cooler extremities and poor circulation due to the cold. Check out our post on the best foot warmers if you struggle with cold feet!
So, what do you think? Do you suffer from cold feet? Does it affect how you live your life? Let us know in the comments below!