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Recognise iron deficiency and treat it correctly

Do you often feel tired even though you have slept enough? One reason may be iron deficiency (iron deficiency anaemia).

In this article you will find all the important information about the trace element iron and learn what you can do against an iron deficiency:

  1. What is iron deficiency?
  2. How does iron deficiency develop and what is the cause?
  3. How dangerous is iron deficiency during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
  4. Iron deficiency: symptoms and signs
  5. Iron deficiency: When to see a doctor?
  6. Which form of therapy is suitable for iron deficiency
  7. How much iron should one take daily?
  8. When and how to take iron
  9. These foods influence iron therapy
  10. Prevent iron deficiency
  11. What is AndreaFer Iron?

1. What is iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency or iron deficiency anaemia is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world.

With iron deficiency, the iron level in the body is too low. This can have devastating consequences. This is because the trace element iron fulfils vital tasks in our body.

Iron is needed for the formation of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the protein in the red blood cells that transports oxygen to the tissues of the body. If a person does not have enough iron in his or her body, an iron deficiency can result, along with fatigue, dizziness, headaches or other ailments. 

An adult person has about 3 to 4 g of iron in their body. Iron is constantly excreted by the body, this is quite normal. The normal daily loss of iron occurs through intestinal excretion, skin excretion and sweat secretion and amounts to approx. 1 to 2 mg.

2. How does iron deficiency develop and what is the cause?

Why is iron deficiency so common?

This is mainly due to one fact: our body constantly loses iron, but cannot produce any itself. It has to be supplied through food.

A deficiency occurs when ...

  • theiron loss is high.
  • theiron requirement is increased.
  • too little iron is being absorbed.
  • Iron absorption is impaired.

What robs the body of iron?

Increased iron loss occurs when the body loses blood and thus also the important iron.

The cause of iron deficiency due to blood loss can be:

  • heavy menstruation,
  • severe injuries,
  • blood loss during childbirth,
  • bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract,
  • regular blood donations..

Life phases with increased iron requirements

Iron deficiency affects more women than men. This is because iron is also lost from the body in everyday life through menstrual blood and during childbirth.

However, an increased need for iron also arises in certain phases of life or due to lifestyle.

Life phases with increased iron requirements can be:

  • pregnancy,
  • breastfeeding,
  • adolescence (growth),
  • intensive training, for example in athletes.

Dietary styles that contribute to iron deficiency

The body naturally loses a little iron all the time, for example ...

  • via sweating.
  • via the excretions of digestion.
If we take in too little iron through our diet, this loss is no longer compensated for and the body becomes undersupplied with iron over time.

Dietary styles that contribute to iron deficiency, are:

  • vegetarian and vegan diets,
  • unbalanced diet (especially fast food),
  • diets,
  • Anorexia and bulimia.

Diseases that contribute to iron deficiency

Diseases can also be the cause of iron deficiency. For example, iron absorption is impaired if there are diseases in the gastrointestinal tract or if nutrient absorption is impaired due to food intolerance.

Diseases that contribute to iron deficiencyn, are:

  • chronic gastrointestinal inflammation such as Crohn's disease,
  • celiac disease,
  • lactose intolerance,
  • cancer,
  • medication use such as antacids (stomach acid binders), antibiotics (tetracyclines), laxatives.

3. How dangerous is iron deficiency during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Iron deficiency is particularly common in women during pregnancy because the iron requirement is also increased then.

The reasons for this are:

  • The blood volume increases significantly from the 4th month of pregnancy. The growing baby needs to be supplied and the mother also needs more blood.
  • The daily iron requirement during pregnancy thus doubles to about 30 mg. The pregnant woman can hardly cover this amount through her diet, so her iron stores in the body are emptied first. .
Thus, from the 30th week of pregnancy at the latest, iron deficiency symptoms such as tiredness, paleness and susceptibility to infections occur. At this point at the latest, it makes sense to take iron tablets or iron sticks.

Diet for iron deficiency during pregnancy

Since the body needs large amounts of iron for blood formation during pregnancy, special attention should be paid to foods containing iron.

You will find a list below.

You can find more information in the brochure (only available in German, French and Italian)
«Ernährung in der Schwangerschaft» der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft.

Iron loss during birth and breastfeeding

During childbirth, the woman loses a lot of blood. This causes the iron supply in the body to drop again.
During breastfeeding, the iron requirement is also increased because the infant absorbs iron through the mother's milk and the mother also needs a lot of iron for herself.
The nutritional needs of pregnant and breastfeeding women change not only with regard to iron, but also with regard to other vitamins and minerals (available only in German, Frech and Italian):

Iron deficiency endangers the unborn baby

Iron deficiency anaemia increases the risk of premature birth and can lead to growth retardation in the baby.

Scientists have also identified other consequences of iron deficiency during pregnancy.

The body needs iron to make the thyroid hormone, which helps the baby's brain develop properly. An iron deficiency can disrupt the brain development of the unborn child.

4. Iron deficiency: symptoms and signs

"Do I have an iron deficiency?" This is a question many people ask themselves. Especially if you are still exhausted after 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day.

After all, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. But concentration problems, headaches, pale skin, brittle nails, cracked corners of the mouth and a racing heart under stress are also typical.

How to detect iron deficiency

An iron deficiency can be determined by a doctor with a blood test.
The doctor examines the so-called ferritin value: this should not be below 50 micrograms per litre of blood.
If necessary, the haemoglobin value is also determined: One speaks of anaemia when the Hb value in women is below 12 g per 100 ml.

Symptoms of iron deficiency at different stages

The typical symptoms of iron deficiency depend on how advanced it is.

Only one fifth of the iron in the body is stored in depots. The most important iron store is ferritin. In humans, most of the ferritin is found in the bone marrow, spleen and liver.
The greater part of the iron travels with the blood. This is because iron is responsible for the transport of oxygen in the blood.

Iron in the body: the optimal state
In the optimal state, the body is supplied with iron in such a way that the iron stores are full and the transporters are working to capacity. As a result, there is enough iron to form new blood cells.
Iron deficiency
In the case of an iron deficiency, the iron stores empty. The transporters are still working at full capacity and enough blood cells are available, but the first symptoms may already be noticeable. Why?
Iron deficiency anaemia
In iron deficiency anaemia, the iron stores are completely empty. The transporters are no longer working at full capacity and there is no more iron to make new blood cells. This can lead to severe symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, concentration problems and heartburn.

Signs of iron deficiency in the child

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in children and adolescents worldwide.
For a child or adolescent with iron deficiency without other symptoms, it is recommended that the first thing to do is to adjust the diet of the whole family to ensure iron intake.
However, in a child or adolescent with iron deficiency and growth disorders as well as other symptoms, it is recommended to treat the iron deficiency first and then the other symptoms.
If you suspect iron deficiency in your child, look out for the following symptoms: pale skin, dizziness, headaches, irritability.

5. Iron deficiency: When to see a doctor?

If you have iron deficiency symptoms or suspect them in your child, you should consult a doctor. He or she will determine the degree of iron deficiency with a blood test.

It is also important to rule out other diseases that cause similar symptoms.

If there is an iron deficiency, you can discuss the treatment method with your doctor.

6. Which form of therapy is suitable for iron deficiency

Always start the therapy with iron only after the diagnosis by your doctor, so that the cause is clarified.

Depending on the situation, the following form of therapy may be the right one:

Adjusting your diet - what you can eat when you have an iron deficiency

An iron-rich diet with the following foods will help you prevent iron deficiency.

Animal foods rich in iron
The human body can best utilise iron from animal foods.
They contain particularly high amounts of iron:
  • eggs,
  • meat (especially red muscle meat, liver).
Plant foods with a lot of iron
The body absorbs plant iron less well than animal iron.

They contain particularly high amounts of iron:

  • Whole grain products,
  • Legumes such as lentils and soybeans,
  • Nuts and seeds such as pistachios or sunflower seeds,
  • Vegetables such as spinach and cabbage stems,
  • Herbs such as watercress, parsley, onions.
However, one should keep in mind: The change in diet only helps with very mild iron deficiency or as a preventive measure against deficiency.

Taking iron supplements (oral iron substitution)

Iron supplements are available in the form of:

  • tablets,
  • powders,
  • drops.
The iron preparation is ingested and enters the bloodstream via the intestinal mucosa.

High-dose iron preparations: Preparations with a high amount of iron are available as medicines from doctors, pharmacists and druggists.

Low-dose iron preparations: Iron preparations are also available as food supplements. In contrast to high-dose preparations, they can be bought without a prescription.

Side effects of oral iron supplements
Occasionally, iron supplements can cause bloating, pressure in the upper abdomen, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea.

Residual iron may cause a dark discolouration of the stool, but this is not significant.

In the latest dietary supplements, such as the iron sticks from Andreabal, the iron is microencapsulated. This means that it is better absorbed by the body and there is no gastrointestinal irritation.

Intravenous treatment with iron (intravenous iron substitution)

In this therapy, the iron is infused directly into the blood. This method is used when taking medication is not well tolerated or is not effective enough.

Intravenous treatment is more expensive than taking tablets.

No matter which form of therapy you use, you should be checked again by your doctor after a few weeks.

7. How much iron should one take daily?

The need for iron varies depending on age, gender and stage of life.

Take a look at this graph:

The iron requirement is highest during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as the child also needs to be supplied. The legislator recommends up to 30 mg/day in this life situation.

Depending on the phase of life, it therefore makes sense to take an additional iron supplement. A daily intake of 10-15 mg for adults is recommended by the Swiss Society for Nutrition.

It is important to know that only about 10 % of the iron absorbed through food is absorbed in the intestine and thus enters the blood.

Women particularly affected

Women in particular lose a lot of iron through their monthly menstrual period: Per month, the average blood loss is about 25-60 ml. Every 10th woman even loses over 80 ml, which means a loss of over 40 mg of iron per month (=more than 4 super plus tampons per day)!

8. When and how to take iron

Iron can be taken in the morning, at noon or in the evening. Ideally, iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach about one to half an hour before breakfast. This is when the body can absorb the most iron.
If you take iron during the day or in the evening, you should make sure that the last meal was at least one to two hours ago.

Some foods hinder the body's absorption of iron, others promote it. For example, do you need a cup of coffee in the morning to get going? Then you should take your iron dose at least two hours before or after, otherwise your iron deficiency supplements are completely useless.
Coffee contains tannic acid. This binds the iron ions to itself. As a result, the intestine cannot absorb the iron, so it does not enter the bloodstream and is simply excreted again together with the tannic acid.
On the other hand, you can support your body in absorbing iron with drinks containing vitamin C - for example, orange juice.

Therefore, pay attention to when and which foods you have eaten and adjust the intake of your food supplement accordingly.
In the following section you will find a list of foods that have an influence on how well your iron supplement is absorbed.

9. These foods influence iron therapy

Iron can be taken in the morning, at noon or in the evening. It is important to know: Certain foods and medicines inhibit iron absorption, others promote it.

Therefore, do not eat or drink the following foods at the same time as taking the iron supplement (right column):

Some foods help the body to absorb iron when you take them together with iron supplements (left column):

10. Prevent iron deficiency

How useful is the preventive intake of iron?

Women who menstruate regularly are particularly prone to iron deficiency. But also for growing adolescents or athletes with a high training workload, taking an iron supplement as a preventive measure can be useful.

Prevent iron deficiency with the iron supplement AndreaFer.

With the food supplement AndreaFer, a cure of several weeks can be made twice a year.

AndreaFer contains iron (to reduce fatigue), vitamin C (increases iron absorption), folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 (contribute to normal blood formation).

11. What is AndreaFer Iron?

AndreaFer Iron is a food supplement with iron, folic acid, vitamin B6 + B12 and vitamin C.

In case of constant tiredness, fatigue, decreasing performance, an iron deficiency could be present and an additional supply makes sense.

AndreaFer contains:
pro Stick % NRV [1]
Eisen 19 mg 136%
Folsäure 400 μg 200%
Vitamin B6 1,4 mg 100%
Vitamin B12 3 μg 120%
Vitamin C 80 mg 100%

(1) Nutritional Reference Value
Anteil in % der empfohlenen Tagesdosis

Ingredients of AndreaFer.

The following ingredients are contained in AndreaFer:
Sweeteners: xylitol, sorbitol; microencapsulated iron (corn starch, iron (II) phosphate, sunflower lecithin); L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C); raspberry flavouring; acidulant: citric acid; anti-caking agent: silica; pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6); (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid, glucosamine salt (folic acid); cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12).

AndreaFer is vegan, without gluten, sugar and lactose!

Please note:

  • Food supplements are not a substitute for a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
    Do not exceed the recommended daily dose. AndreaFer may have a laxative effect if consumed in excess.
  • Made in Italy.
You can order AndreaFer here:


Andreabal AG
Binningerstrasse 95
4123 Allschwil
Tel. +41 61 271 95 87
Fax +41 61 271 95 88

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