I never really delved into the importance of iron and how iron affects the skin until having recently gone through the process of discovering that I had low iron levels. I just thought I was addicted to my afternoon siesta’s! No being a vegetarian or anything I was quite surprised that I had low iron levels. But apparently low iron levels, especially in women is quite common. Women around childbearing age are most commonly affected due to heavy cycles and pregnancy. Diet and intestinal diseases can also be other reasons for low iron levels through absorption issues. Meat, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and eggs are great sources of iron.

Throughout this time of feeling lethargic and exhausted I just thought that this was normal as I was feeling like this because of the day to day busyness of juggling work and family. After 3 weeks on supplements I started to get the spring in my step back again. I even started getting up earlier and exercising again which I hadn’t done since having the kids.
I wanted to read more on what impact iron has on the skin as I have many clients currently who are in various stages of either discovering they have low iron or who are in the process of supplementing/infusions.

What role does iron play in the body?

Our bodies need iron to produce haemoglobin which is a protein found in our red blood cells that carries oxygen to our tissues. So if you have low iron then you are not producing the amount of haemoglobin that your body needs. If you don’t get enough oxygen to your tissues then you feel lethargic, weakness, dizziness, pale skin, brittle nails, headaches and the list goes on.
In understanding what occurs in the dermal layer of the skin (the second uppermost layer that houses our collagen, elastin, hair follicles, sweat glands and connective tissue) when there is an iron deficiency I discovered that there are some points worthy of a mention:
• Itchy Skin: Cells may not receive enough oxygen and nutrients and can damage the cells leading to dry, itchy and flaky skin.
• Hair Loss: Hair follicles can also be deprived of nutrients and oxygen leading to brittle and dry hair as well as diffused hair loss.
• Pallor: Refers to the pale colour of the skin and can result from reduced amount of oxyhaemoglobin and is noticed in the skin and mucous membranes.
• There is some evidence pointing to the theory that low iron can impact the remodelling (healing and skin rejuvenation) of the skin at the end of the wound healing process.
If you suspect that you have low iron then the first step is to get your iron tested with your Doctor.

 

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X Sarah Wilkinson

References:

http://genevadermatology.ch/iron-deficiency-anemia-anaemia-and-the-skin/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4091310/
http://www.mdmag.com/journals/surgical-rounds/2014/august-2014/iron-skin-and-wound-healing
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2014.00156/full