How do I know if I'm iron deficient?

Posted by Blooms The Chemist on 9 May 2024

How do I know if I'm iron deficient?

Iron is essential for helping your body function and giving you energy for daily life. One of its most important roles is to transport oxygen in your blood.

We explore what iron deficiency is and why keeping your iron levels in check is essential.

How much iron do I need?

The recommended daily intake for iron varies widely depending on age and lifestage. In healthy adults, intake varies from 8mg in men,18mg in people on their period, to 27mg in people who are pregnant. 1

If you wake up feeling tired and fatigued, you may be missing your recommended intake of iron, which can help support your immune system, mental function, and energy levels.

What causes iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is caused through three main ways, which include 1:

  • Not eating enough iron-rich foods - your body can store iron, but it can’t create it, so we need to get iron through our diet
  • Issues with iron absorption-some health conditions can affect how much iron is absorbed in our bodies
  • Blood loss -this includes losing blood through menstruation (periods), ulcers and regular blood donations

You may also be in a high-risk group for iron deficiency, as one in eight people aged two years and over don’t consume enough iron to meet their needs 1.

This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and those with poor diets 1.

How do I know if I'm iron deficient?

Many people don’t realise they’re iron deficient and believe they’re just tired or feeling run down.

Some symptoms of low iron include 2:

  • Getting frequent infections
  • Struggling to concentrate or issues with memory
  • Feeling short of breath, dizzy or light-headed

If you think you might be iron deficient, speak to your doctor so they can do a full iron screening.

If you have iron depletion1, when your body only has a small amount of stored iron, you'll need to include more iron-rich foods in your diet and have a blood test in another six months to see if your levels have improved.

If you have iron deficiency 1, where your iron level storage has dropped below a threshold, your doctor will closely work with you and check your diet to ensure it includes iron-rich foods. They may also recommend a supplement and regularly review your iron status. The type of supplements and approach depends on many factors, including how severe the iron deficiency is and the impact on your body.

How can I get more iron in my diet?

If you need to include more iron in your diet, you can try   2:

  • Eating foods that are rich in iron, including green vegetables, lean red meat, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds
  • Consuming more vitamin C with your meals, including from potatoes, citrus fruits and tomatoes, as this can help iron absorption
  • Limiting your intake of alcohol and tea, as these drinks can reduce iron absorption

If your doctor has recommended a supplement, Maltofer Oral Iron tablets are used for the treatment of iron deficiency in adults and teenagers over 12 years of age where ferrous iron supplements are unsuitable or cannot be used.

Maltofer is also suitable for vegans, vegetarians and for use during pregnancy, which are usually high-risk groups of iron deficiency.

Please speak to your healthcare professional to check whether Maltofer is right for you.

This is a sponsored article written in partnership with Maltofer. You can explore more of their products here.

Maltofer is a registered trademark of Vifor(International)Incused under licence by Aspen Pharmacare Australia Pty Ltd.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. Maltofer is for the treatment of iron deficiency in adults and adolescents where the use of ferrous iron supplements is not tolerated, or otherwise inappropriate. For the prevention of iron deficiency in adults and adolescents determined by a medical practitioner to be at high risk, where the use of ferrous iron supplements is not tolerated, or otherwise

inappropriate. If you have iron deficiency, your doctor will advise you whether an oral iron treatment is required


1BetterHealth Victoria, Iron and iron deficiency, accessed 8 April 2024

2Healthdirect, Iron deficiency, accessed 10 April 2024