Time for you
Iron in midlife
As general health has improved, perception of age has changed. Expectations of both work and life have improved and we anticipate being fit and well for longer than ever before.
Studies have shown that iron deficiency is associated with decreased cognitive functioning,2 particularly concentration and short-term memory,3 which could lead to you being less productive both at work and in your daily life.4 Importantly though, it has also been shown that treating iron deficiency can improve cognitive symptoms.2
A lack of iron can also impact on your general health. If you have been iron deficient in the past 2 years you are more likely to experience severe exhaustion, lack of vitality and reduced mental and physical well-being.3
Iron and fatigue
A symptom of iron deficiency is fatigue,5 a physical and mental exhaustion that doesn’t go away even if you rest, and that can leave you feeling cranky and listless day after day. You can assess your level of tiredness by using our Fatigue Survey. You can use the results of the Survey to help explain to your doctor how fatigue is affecting your life.
Just as starting your periods was a time of great change for your body, so it is its end. The hormone levels that were responsible for the release of an egg every month start to decrease, and your body lets you know by having hot flushes,6 disturbed sleep7
As your periods stop, your need for iron decreases.
Keeping healthy iron levels
Making sure you have a healthy diet will help you get the amount of iron you nevertheless still need.
Even though some of the symptoms of iron deficiency, such as looking pale8or feeling fatigued5 can be due to other conditions, if you feel you may be suffering from iron deficiency, it is important that you speak to your doctor. Also, certain diseases, such as chronic heart failure9 or cancer10 put you at a higher risk of iron deficiency. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency you can use our Symptom Browser. For information on iron rich foods and the best food combinations to optimise iron absorption see Choosing your food wisely.
Take care of yourself and enjoy this time for you.
- 1. Zimmermann M, Hurrell R. Nutritional iron deficiency. Lancet. 2007;370:511-520. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673607612355. Accessed October 13, 2013.
- 2. a. b. Lomagno KA, Hu F, Riddell LJ, et al. Increasing iron and zinc in pre-menopausal women and its effects on mood and cognition: A systematic review. Nutrients. 2014;6(11):5117-5141. doi:10.3390/nu6115117.
- 3. a. b. Patterson A et al. Iron deficiency, general health and fatigue: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Qual Life Res. 2000;9:491-497.
- 4. Haas JD, Brownlie T. Iron deficiency and reduced work capacity: a critical review of the research to determine a causal relationship. J Nutr. 2001;131(2S-2):676S-688S; discussion 688S-690S. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11160598. Accessed August 26, 2015.
- 5. a. b. Peyrin-Biroulet L, Williet N, Cacoub P. Guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency across indications: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(6):1585-94. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.103366.
- 6. Blümel JE, Chedraui P, Baron G, et al. Menopausal symptoms appear before the menopause and persist 5 years beyond: a detailed analysis of a multinational study. Climacteric. 2012;15(6):542-51. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22530706. Accessed December 18, 2013.
- 7. Greenblum CA, Rowe MA, Neff DF, Greenblum JS. Midlife women: symptoms associated with menopausal transition and early postmenopause and quality of life. Menopause. 2013;20(1):22-7. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22929034. Accessed December 18, 2013.
Blümel JE, Chedraui P, Baron G, et al. Menopausal symptoms appear before the menopause and persist 5 years beyond: a detailed analysis of a multinational study. Climacteric. 2012;15(6):542-51. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22530706. Accessed December 18, 2013.
- 8. Stoltzfus R, Edward-Raj A. Clinical pallor is useful to detect severe anemia in populations where anemia is prevalent and severe. J Nutr. 1999;129(May):1675-1681. Available at: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/129/9/1675.short. Accessed February 11, 2014.
- 9. Klip IT, Comin-Colet J, Voors A a, et al. Iron deficiency in chronic heart failure: an international pooled analysis. Am Heart J. 2013;165(4):575-582.e3. doi:10.1016/j.ahj.2013.01.017.
- 10. Aapro M, Österborg a, Gascón P, Ludwig H, Beguin Y. Prevalence and management of cancer-related anaemia, iron deficiency and the specific role of i.v. iron. Ann Oncol. 2012;23(8):1954-62. doi:10.1093/annonc/mds112.