Always got cold hands and feet? Is this the REAL reason you’re always chilly?

Are you always the first to turn up the heat in the office? A serial cover hog? Wear wool socks at all times? There might be a reason behind your perpetual chilly-ness. Iron deficiency

If you’re always shivering, it may not be best to brush it off as just being a ‘cold person.’ Iron deficiency anaemia could be the culprit. We turned to Dr. Marilyn Glenville, nutritionist and women’s health author, to give us the facts about iron deficiency anaemia(and what you can do about it.)

Female hands with hot drink, on color background

What causes people with iron deficiency anaemia to feel cold?

Iron is needed by the processes that generate heat, so when you are deficient in iron you can feel cold. One of the most common symptoms is cold hands and/or feet.

What are other telltale symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia? 

Feeling tired and weak is one of the most common symptoms, as well as lightheadedness, a fast heartbeat, and being short of breath.

What’s the best way to test for iron deficiency anaemia?

By a blood test which measures the level of haemoglobin. It should not be less than 12 gm/dl for a woman. Another important measure of iron is ferritin, the body’s store of iron. If this is low it can also cause hair loss. The normal range for women is 12-150 ng/mL, but it should be around 70 for good health growth.

Spinach leaves in a wooden plate

Besides red meat, what foods are naturally high in iron?

Food naturally rich in iron are dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits and nuts. However, I would generally supplement when someone is anaemic.

How do you choose a supplement? Do iron supplements have side effects?

Iron supplements can have side effects, particularly if the iron is in the form of ferrous sulphate. This is an inorganic form of iron and difficult to absorb, so side effects can be constipation and black stools. Liquid iron supplements can be good as they are easy to absorb, and also supplements where the iron is in a more absorbable form, such as ferrous bisglycinate or iron citrate.

How else can iron deficiency anaemia be treated?

Iron deficiency anaemia is also caused by blood loss, so if heavy periods are the cause, then these need to be treated in order to prevent you becoming anaemic again.

Are there any other medical reasons that women could often feel cold?

An underactive thyroid can also make women feel cold.

Do you have any other burning questions (or freezing, in this case) for Dr. Glenville about iron deficiency?

< Back

Also in this week’s magazine

Postnatal exercise - an expert guide to running after giving birth FEATURED
Postpartum

Postnatal exercise – an expert guide to running after giving birth

Is running OK as a type of postnatal exercise? Athlete and coach Baz Moffat, reveals what should be considered if you are planning to run after giving birth 

A gynaecologist's guide to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome FEATURED
Health

A gynaecologist’s guide to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Call them what you will – ‘women’s issues’, ‘intimate health problems’, ‘gynae things’, whatever, all women will experience at least one or two intimate conditions at some stage in their life - today we discuss Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

A gynaecologist's guide to a hot flashes and a no sweat menopause FEATURED
Menopause

A gynaecologist’s guide to a hot flashes and a no sweat menopause

For the penultimate installment of our new gynea series we hear a gyneacologist's guide to dealing with hot flashes for a 'no sweat' menopause

3 ways CBD can make your workouts better FEATURED
Fitness

3 ways CBD can make your workouts better

CBD is still hailed as the new ‘go to’ supplement for a myriad of reasons - including making your workouts better. But how? Lucy Gornall reports

A gynaecologist's guide to vaginal discharge - what's normal, what's not FEATURED
Health

A gynaecologist’s guide to abnormal vaginal discharge

It's time to talk gynea stuff, and for the next installment of our new gynea series we discuss vaginal discharge - what is normal and what is not so normal

A gynaecologist's guide to pelvic pain FEATURED
Health

A gynaecologist’s guide to pelvic pain

It's time to talk gynea stuff, and for the next installment of our new gynea series we discuss pelvic pain, it's causes and how to treat it

Latest Video Series

Healthista-footer

Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.

Top