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Can Low Iron Cause Anxiety?

Can Low Iron Cause Anxiety?

Can Low Iron Cause Anxiety?

As far as nutritional problems go, iron deficiencies are the most common in the world. Even in first world countries, low iron prevails over other issues. Due to inefficient absorption, medical conditions, and low iron levels in primary foods, this condition affects at least 2.5 billion people. With that many people affected, we must ask the question, can low iron cause anxiety?

This lack of sufficient iron in the blood can cause an array of other problems. Since it is such an essential mineral for your body, a deficiency can have a severe impact on your health. A wide variety of symptoms can appear as a result, and your mental health may take a hit as well.

What is Iron Deficiency?

What is Iron Deficiency?

For your body to produce blood, iron is essential. More than half of your body's iron is in your blood. Your red blood cells help with oxygen transfer between tissues and lungs, which is especially important.

Since your body cannot make iron itself, you must supplement your diet and other sources. A severe deficiency can have adverse effects on your health and can even cause developmental problems in children. A lack of iron in the blood means the brain has trouble communicating, and that leads to many issues throughout the whole body.

Causes for low irons levels are mostly due to not having enough iron-rich foods in the diet. Blood loss is also a key factor, especially with women during menstruation. Other causes can include reduced absorption, picky eating, and certain cancers.

We do not know much about precisely what iron's relationship with the nervous system is. Regardless of that, it is evident that there is a correlation of some sort. Your brain cannot process information efficiently without the proper amount of iron, which means we still have to wonder; can low iron cause anxiety?

Symptoms of Low Iron

Symptoms of Low Iron

The symptoms of having an iron deficiency can be neurological and physical. Some people do not have any symptoms at all. Either way, it may help get your blood tested if you are feeling off in any way.

Symptoms of an Iron Deficiency:

  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion is one of the signs that people experience most often. Your brain has not been getting enough oxygen, which means it must work harder.
  • It can be hard to differentiate between normal tiredness and iron-related fatigue.
  • Many people also experience weakness, irritability, low energy, and fatigue, making it easier to diagnose.
  • Hair and Skin Problems
    • If your hair is dry, damaged, and weak, it could be low iron. This change is because your brain if focusing its limited oxygen on more critical areas.
    • Hair loss is also common, but only in substantial amounts. Losing about 100 strands a day is normal, but more than could mean there is a problem.
    • Dry skin comes along with dry hair since they are both not as essential functions.
    • Mouth and Tongue Changes
      • Since the tongue is a muscle controlled by the brain, low iron can cause weird things to happen.
        • It can become pale, swollen, sore, smooth, or inflamed.
    • Headaches
      • Although less common, headaches can be a sign of low iron. These headaches usually come with dizziness or feeling lightheaded.
      • The lack of oxygen causes the brain's blood vessels to swell, and headaches can result from the pressure.
    • Anxiety
      • Without enough oxygen, your sympathetic nervous system into gear. This deprivation causes it to make you feel nervous, anxious, and even irritable.
      • Without iron to work with neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine cannot properly do their jobs.
      • Along with anxiety, you can suffer from ADHD, depression, restlessness, addiction, and more.
    • Paleness
      • Less oxygen for hemoglobin causes the blood to be less red, and as a result, you as well.
      • The skin, mouth, and gums, nails, and lower eyelids can all lose their color. Paleness can appear either all over or in one spot.
      • As one of the first things your doctor will look for, this is a big sign of low iron.

    There are even more iron deficiency symptoms, and it can be hard to diagnose with just one of them. The only way to tell is to have your blood tested. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your iron levels.

    Raising Iron Levels

    Raising Iron Levels

    It is essential to ensure your iron levels are in the right place, especially since it has such an impact on your overall health. Since the body cannot create iron itself, it is up to you to keep them steady. You can do this by changing your diet, taking supplements, and improving absorption.

    However, keep in mind that your body's iron requirements will not be the same as someone else's. Women tend to need more, especially if they are pregnant. Your age is also a factor, so speak to your doctor about how much iron you need. Too much of this mineral can be dangerous, too.

    • Diet
    • Eating foods rich in iron will increase your intake significantly.
    • Foods rich in iron
    • Dried fruit
    • Seafood
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Pork, poultry, and red meat
    • Dark and leafy green vegetables
    • Beans, peas, and similar foods
    • Supplements
      • Your doctor may ask you to take iron supplements, but they are usually the last resort. If you are unable to raise your iron by changing your diet, this will likely be the next step.
      • Only take a supplement if recommended by your doctor.
    • Absorption
      • The blood does not absorb all the iron you provide. By increasing Vitamin C, you can help your body it more efficiently.
      • Drinking a glass of orange juice with your supplement can help it work much better.


    All in all, iron deficiency causes a whole lot of problems. But can low iron cause anxiety? Maybe, since the many issues that come with low iron include anxiety and other mental health-related conditions. If you are experiencing anxiety and believe it could be related to your iron levels, have a chat with your doctor, and they will be able to help you from there.


    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4253901/
    2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201511/heavy-metal-iron-and-the-brain
    3. https://www.thecaregrouppc.com/low-iron-depression-and-anxiety/
    4. https://darouwellness.com/fatigue-anxiety-iron-an-integrative-approach-to-mental-health/
    5. https://www.health.com/condition/anemia/15-signs-you-may-have-an-iron-deficiency


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