Deficiency Signs And Symptoms

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world (Gillespie et al 1991) and may occur with or without anaemia.

Iron deficiency anaemia, also known as hypochromic microcytic anaemia, results in reduced work capacity in adults and a reduced ability to learn in children. Signs and symptoms include:

• fatigue and lethargy

• decreased resistance to infection

• cardiovascular and respiratory changes, which can progress to cardiac failure if left untreated

© 2007 Elsevier Australia

• increased lead absorption, which in turn inhibits haem synthesis

• decreased selenium and glutathione peroxidase levels

• pale inside lower eyelid or mouth

• pale-coloured nail bed

• pale lines on stretched palm (palmar creases)

• ridged, spoon-shaped, thin flat nails

• impaired cognitive and motor function

• adverse pregnancy outcomes and increased perinatal maternal mortality (NMCD 2006)

• reduced thyroid function and ability to make thyroid hormones (Beard et al 1990)

• difficulty maintaining body temperature in a cold environment. PRIMARY DEFICIENCY

Primary deficiency is most common in vegetarians, the elderly, those with protein-calorie malnutrition, and during periods of increased iron requirement due to expanded blood volume in infancy, adolescence and pregnancy.

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