Iron Deficiencies and Your Immune System

Did you know that iron produces red blood cells within your body, which carry oxygen through to your muscles and organs? It is also super important for keeping your immune system functioning at its best.

Iron deficiency often leads to anemia (lack of red blood cells). If this happens, it means that you are at greater risk of contracting infections and diseases. 

Iron deficiency anemia has many symptoms, both obvious and some not. 

Iron deficiency symptoms include:


Shortness of breath

Heart palpitations

Pale complexion


An altered sense of taste

Feeling itchy

A sore or smooth tongue

Hair loss

Pica (the compulsion to eat non-food items such as paper or clay)


There are many things that can lead to a low iron count, some causes include: 

Bleeding in the stomach or intestines (stomach ulcer)

Heavy periods


Stomach or bowel cancer

Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

You are also more likely to have low iron levels if you are vegan or vegetarian as animal products are high in easily absorbed dietary iron (heme) while plants are relatively low in easily digested dietary iron. 

Iron deficiency anaemia will usually be treated with a diet high in natural iron or by taking iron supplements in the form of pills or liquid, in severe cases you may be recommended to have it by IV or in a blood transfusion. 

Treatment in the form of iron tablets and dietary changes is usually very effective. Iron-rich foods include:

Red meat, fish, and tofu


Dark-green leafy vegetables (watercress, kale, spinach, broccoli, sprouts)

Iron-fortified cereals and bread

Brown rice

Pulses and beans

Nuts and seeds

Dried fruit (apricots, prunes, raisins)

Iron rich foods Foods rich in iron including meat, fish, pulses and seeds iron stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

If you notice any of the symptoms of iron deficiency you should speak with your GP. They will be able to advise on the best course of action for you to take.