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Boosting your body's iron levels could lead to better workplace performance

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The most common form of anaemia is caused by insufficient iron in the body

Do you feel like you are dragging much of the day at work? Losing your sense of vitality and oomph can be attributed to many reasons, such as late nights out and lack of sleep. Or it can also be due to anaemia.

Anaemia is a condition characterised by a lower than normal number of red blood cells. This can happen when red blood cells are not replaced as quickly as they are destroyed through the body’s natural cell life cycle.

Several factors such as blood loss due to trauma, chronic illness, infection and malnutrition contribute to the condition.

While anaemia can be brought on by a number of reasons, iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is the most common form of anaemia, and it is caused by insufficient iron in the body.  

A 2016 study on IDA by World Health Organization showed that iron deficiency remains “one of the most severe and important nutritional deficiencies in the world today".

Are you at risk?

Anyone can be at risk for anaemia. It is a common condition that can occur in all age, racial groups and genders.

But it is more prevalent among women, according to the American Society of Hematology. And in Southeast Asia, up to 40 per cent of women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia.

Some telltale signs of anaemia include lack of energy, pale skin, easily out of breath, dizziness, cold hands and feet, fast or irregular heartbeat and brittle or grooved nails.

Given the broad signs and symptoms, it is easy for a person to misinterpret them and attribute it to other reasons such as stress, lack of sleep or even lack of exercise.

Don’t ignore the signs, as a prolonged episode of anaemia is damaging to your body, says the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Very severe anaemia may even cause death.

Affecting productivity

At the workplace, IDA can be a monkey on your back, when it comes to your performance.

Fatigue and tiredness brought on by IDA can have an impact on your productivity level. Anaemic individuals find that they do not have enough red blood cells their bloodstream to transport enough oxygen to all parts of the body to support physical and mental activity over a long duration.

This is because iron deficiency also affects other metabolic systems such as neurotransmission, formation of myoglobin (an oxygen-binding protein that transports and stores oxygen within muscles) and cytochromes (carrier molecules in the mitochondria of cells).

Since oxygen is an essential fuel to keep cells alive and functioning, reduced oxygen delivered may leave you feeling easily worn-out, making you less able to tackle challenges at work efficiently.

Dealing with iron deficiency

Iron is needed by the body to produce haemoglobin. It is a protein molecule in red blood cells that helps to carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body.

While it is essential to include iron-rich foods in your diet, such as green leafy vegetables, lentils, oysters, red lean meat and fish, the body is only able to absorb about 10 per cent of dietary iron.

Before you start popping iron supplements indiscriminately, it is best to consult your doctor for a blood test to get a proper diagnosis of your iron needs.

Be sure that you do not consume more than the daily recommended amount. Self-medicating may result in excessive iron intake, causing its own set of problems.

That is why iron supplements, such as Sangobion, can be a convenient way to improve your daily iron intake.

Sangobion contains organic iron, which has higher bioavailability than inorganic iron. As one of the side-effects for taking iron supplement is constipation, Sangobion contains sorbitol, naturally found in fruits that help support bowel movement.

Health Promotion Board recommends 6mg of iron for adult males aged 18 and above. Women between the ages of 18 and 59 years old require 19mg of iron, while women aged 60 years and above require 6mg of iron a day.