Periods and anemia
Do you feel very tired after your period? Do you lose your appetite and get out of breath at the slightest effort? Significant blood loss due to heavy periods can cause iron deficiency anemia. Perhaps you suffer from it like 4 to 8% of European women of childbearing age. The ideal is to carry out a blood test to take stock of your state of health. But first, here are some explanations.
Why can menstruation lead to anemia?
Any loss of blood means loss of red blood cells and iron. If your diet does not fill the gap, you risk being a victim of iron deficiency anemia.
Since iron participates in the transport of oxygen in all cells, a deficiency leads to overall dysfunction in the body. This is because cells consume oxygen to produce the energy our organs and muscles need to be in good working order.
If in addition to your heavy periods , you have had closely spaced pregnancies, you follow a vegan diet or you have a chronic disease causing poor iron absorption, you are considered at risk. So be extra vigilant!
Symptoms of anemia
It is not always easy to spot the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, especially when it is mild. Here are the main ones:
Pronounced fatigue: even raising our arm exhausts us
Pale complexion and white inside of the eyes, instead of red
Accelerated heart rate, to the point of not being able to fall asleep sometimes
Difficulty taking deep breaths and rapid shortness of breath
Cold body extremities
Dizziness and vertigo
Difficulty concentrating, thinking
Digestive disorders, stomach aches, nausea
Of course, symptoms don't all appear at the same time and will vary on different days and cycles . After each period, try to listen to the signals your body sends you. Even if your iron deficiency is minimal, it is better to detect it as soon as possible. Because if you do not act, the lack of iron may increase, little by little, until it becomes really annoying.
Limit the risk of anemia during menstruation
There are no mysteries: if you lack iron, you will have to absorb more. There are two kinds: heme iron which is easily absorbed by our body and non-heme iron which is much less so. Here are some dietary sources for these two types of iron:
Heme iron: liver, clams, beef, pigeon, black pudding, sardines
Non-heme iron: green vegetables, legumes, seaweed, nuts, sesame seeds, dried apricots
As you can see, iron is better absorbed when it comes from animal products. That's not to say you can't follow a vegan diet to get your fix. You just have to be more vigilant! Here are some tips to help you.
To promote iron absorption, consume vitamin C at the same time. On the other hand, avoid drinking tea or coffee during your meal. You can also eat nettles which are not only very rich in iron but also contain all the essential amino acids your body needs.
You will easily find them at the bottom of your garden if you have one to make a delicious soup. You can also buy it in the form of dried leaves in organic stores to make herbal teas. A good combo for breakfast: fruit rich in vitamin C (kiwi, orange, strawberry) + a large bowl of nettle tea. You will be well hydrated and full of iron.
A final, less healthy option is possible: iron-enriched cereals. Choose the less sweet like the well-known corn flakes for example.
If the symptoms persist despite all your precautions, consult your doctor without delay. He will prescribe a treatment to supplement you with iron. Unfortunately, the tablets are often poorly tolerated and generally lead to digestive disorders. But it's worth a try if your deficiency is ruining your life.