How Iron Can Affect the Menstrual Cycle

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Legumes are a natural source of iron.
Legumes are a natural source of iron. (Image: legumes image by photomed from Fotolia.com)

Each woman flows differently and each body reacts differently to the blood loss. The menstrual cycle is affected by so many various factors--e.g., stress and changes in diet and iron. Every activity of the body depends on enough iron in the blood.

Importance of Iron

Iron makes hemoglobin, which is a protein in the red blood cells that carries the oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues. Every activity of the body, including brain activity and breathing, depends on enough iron in the blood. When the body suffers a low level of iron for a prolonged time, iron deficiency anemia can develop.

Effect of Iron

During the menstrual cycle, females lose just two to three tablespoons of blood. Those with a heavier flow will obviously lose more. Iron is lost as well, since iron travels in the bloodstream. As a result, females of childbearing age can become iron deficient. Iron deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, restless leg syndrome and fainting. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia.

Natural Sources of Iron

Iron can be found naturally in meats, poultry, fish, legumes, collards, kale, broccoli, peaches, apricots, raisins, dried fruits, enriched white bread, pasta, cereals and rice. Examples of legumes are lima beans, dried beans, peas and canned baked beans.

Warnings

Menstruating females should eat iron-rich foods and take a multivitamin supplement that contains iron. If you take both an iron and a calcium supplement, it is recommended that you take them at different times of the day. This way they will both be better absorbed. Too much iron is also bad. An excess in iron accumulation can damage the liver and cause other complications.

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