Put your hand up if you say you feel tired or exhausted at least once a day. Is it up? Yep, ours is too.
And it’s not just a small number of women who feel wrecked. According to new research by pharma company Solvotrin, nine out of 10 women in Ireland struggle with extreme tiredness in their daily lives.
For many of us, we put this tiredness down to the fact we have busy lives – and is it any wonder?
In the space of a day we do a million and one things, like cooking, working, looking after the kids, or running Mum’s Taxi.
However, while of course being ‘run ragged’ is a contributing factor, depriving our bodies of the minerals we need for energy plays a huge part too – namely iron.
The April 2016 study, Positive lifestyle changes around the time of pregnancy: a cross-sectional study, showed that just 18 per cent of Irish women are getting enough iron in their diet, a pretty shocking statistic.
Iron is critical for producing a protein called haemoglobin that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout your body. Without it, everything suffers – leading to tiredness and anaemia.
“Women and also adolescent girls are at particular risk because of blood loss during monthly menstruation,” Prof. Mark Ledwidge from the School of Medicine in UCD. “In addition, the need for iron also increases during pregnancy.
“Other at risk groups include vegetarians, vegans and endurance athletes. Iron is essential for energy production and oxygen transportation, so tiredness and lethargy are usually the first signs of a shortfall.”
Many of us use short term solutions to battle the tiredness, not realising the problem is in fact an iron deficiency.
“Women are currently battling on despite feeling tired or fatigued. Iron shortfalls are being overlooked,” says Dr. Patricia Ryan, GP. “Iron deficiency is a huge problem particularly for women and young adults in Ireland and we need to understand that using caffeine or chocolate and even rest, may not be the solution.”
If you’re feeling tired, short of breath, have a pounding heart, cold hands or feet or are looking paler than usual, you may very well have an iron deficiency.
If you’re not sure, pop into your GP. They can advise you on ways to include more iron-rich foods in your diet, and determine whether you need to take iron supplements.