the non-iron maiden


haha, actually I feel like the low-iron non-maiden.  Here’s a round-about post for you,  starting with some digital scrapbooking, and ending with a list right out of your doctor’s files. 🙂

Last night I remembered these layouts that I made for Creative Memories a few years ago so dug them up to share with you:

This was inspired by my terribly crazy peppermint craving a few years ago.  I found myself rummaging around in my friends’ houses to see if they had any candy canes left over from Christmas.  I was drinking peppermint tea, then buying peppermint extract (for baking) and putting it in hot water to drink like a tea.  I chewed 5 (the brand name) peppermint gum all the time.  Then I discovered Mentos and chewed them constantly, along with red and white swirly candies.  Then I moved on to shampoos….not to eat or drink but to use…peppermint bubble bath, and CREAMS!  I would slather my hands (and feet) with peppermint cream then just breathe it in!  It seemed normal at first, but quickly turned abnormal and obsessive.  Ok, fairly quickly I started wondering what was wrong with me.  Eventually I went in for a checkup and did a lab test.  My doctor called during supper one evening to tell me that my file was flagged because my iron was so very low  ( I think at that point it was almost off the chart, like a minus 2).  I did a bit of reading and concluded that my craving for peppermint was because of the iron deficiency in my body.

Apparently, people with low iron can crave chewing ice, eating dirt, stuff like that.  I noticed that some of it seems to be in the chewing…like I really wanted to chew and crunch on the candy.  My friend’s little guy wanted to eat snow every time they went out.  When my iron levels came up, the craving went away.  Nowadays, when my iron has dipped again, I find the smell and taste of peppermint starts getting more and more tempting!

I thought I’d just mention a few symptoms here….just in case anyone else has had a few of these….I recommend getting your iron checked!!  I haven’t done great research, but I have read a little bit, and talked to a bunch of people who have also had these problems.  Here’s a little list I copied and pasted (from, then added a few of my own comments:

  • fatigue (tiredness!!)
  • decreased energy (increased sleeping)
  • hair loss  (why is my brush so full of hair!!)
  • weakness (do your arms ache when you wash your hair in the shower or put rollers in your hair?)
  • shortness of breath  (sometimes lying in bed, does it feel like breathing is a big effort?)
  • lightheadedness  (it doesn’t matter if you are a blonde or not)
  • palpitations (feeling of the heart racing or beating irregularly)
  • looking pale (pale lips, pull your bottom eyelid down, is it pink or pale yellowish?)
  • Symptoms of severe anemia may include:
    • chest pain, angina, or heart attack
    • dizziness
    • fainting or passing out
    • rapid heart rate
      • low blood pressure
      • rapid breathing
      • pale or cold skin (I’m taking this to also mean, feeling more chilly than usual?)

Ok, this is turning into a rather medical-sounding post (not like me at all) but I really think it’s worth it to have a glance, in case you or someone you know is expericing some of this.  Oh wait!! I just found this better list on another site! take a peek!:

“If you have 5 or more of the symtoms below, see your doctor: Also consider taking B-Complx vitamins

Depression     * Fatigue     * Listlessness, weakness, decreased work productivity     * Impaired learning and cognitive function     * ADD and ADHD type behavioral disturbances     * Developmental delay in infants and young children     * Poor memory     * Decreased attention span and increased distractibility     * Impaired reactivity and coordination     * Irritability     * Dizziness     * Appetite loss     * Cravings for non foods such as ice, dirt or clay     * Constipation     * Difficulty swallowing (because low iron may cause a thin membrane to grow across the esophagus)     * Joint soreness     * Night time leg cramps     * Asthma     * Sores on skin, or itching     * Poor wound healing     * Can cause excessive menstrual bleeding     * Hair loss (LOW IRON IS A FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED CAUSE OF HAIR LOSS)     * Headaches     * Sore or burning tongue     * Soreness in corners of the mouth     * Brittle, flat, or spoon shaped nails     * Longitudinal ridges on nails     * Heart palpitations on exertion     * Shortness of breath     * Cold extremities, with decreased resistance to cold and poor regulation of body temperature     * Tendency to recurrent infections     * Chronic bladder infections     * Anemia (hypo chromic, microcytic) paleness, weakness, drowsiness, fatigue     * Numbness & tingling     * Night sweats     * Fragile bones     * Growth impairment in children     * Eye soreness     * Vague gastrointestinal symptoms: belching, gas, nausea     * Vitiligo (light blotches on the skin)     * Swelling in the ankles     * Bluish tint to the whites of the eyes     * Visual disturbances     * Papilledema (swelling inside the eye)” (from

I highlighted some of the symptoms I was/am feeling.  I feel I have experience them all except APPETITE LOSS!!!  No way that has affected me, haha.  (boo hoo!)

I think it can be easy to live with some of this stuff, and just never think “my iron must be low”!  It’s way easier to think “I’m going insane!”

I’ve finally figured out that anemia can cause many feelings/symptoms of depression. (I’m waving a flag here).  I’m not advocating self-diagnosing, but just want people to be aware of some of the symptoms in case you have had them w/o really paying attention…and so that you can go and talk to your doctor, get the easy blood-test and get it checked out!!  It seems that doctors vary as to how they treat it, and what are normal levels.  I’m still a bit confused as to the “numbers” and levels and to date, haven’t tried many remedies beyond iron pills…*sigh*…but I have the feeling I’m going to have to start trying some other options soon 😦

I hope this post has been helpful for you in some way.  I’d really like to read your comments and/or your own experiences with this low-iron stuff.  🙂


9 responses »

  1. I had some trouble with low iron when I was expecting one of our kids. Didn’t notice anymore cravings, but then I WAS pregnant…. The nurse wanted me on iron supplements right away, but iron pills and I don’t get along… (read.. constipation). So, I just added some liver pate to a piece of toast in the morning. At my next visit about a month later, my iron had gone from 9 to 13 (should be about 15). The nurse couldn’t believe that I had done that without pills! I don’t like pills and am advocate of “let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” (Hippocrates).

    • that’s a good idea Sheila!! I’ve never tried it, but it’s worth a try! Is there a certain store or brand you would recommend? I’ve never tried liver pate….:)

      • Just whatever liver sausage you like. We buy Freybe’s because it’s the only one I could find without added milk (for Tim’s allergies). I like the herbed version. I also like adding some mayo or sandwich spread, but Tim likes mustard. Also good on crackers for a snack. And with none of the yucky side effects from the pills! We both love it, and fight over it whenever I buy it. It is kind of expensive, but so are the pills!

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  4. Alot of the symptoms you listed are not just signs of low iron levels. I had many of these and my iron levels were fine.
    Anemia is actually when you have low white blood cells and you white blood cells carry iron throughout your body, that is why many people with anemia have low iron levles.
    However I had many of these symptoms because I had pernicious anemia. Which means I had anemia, low white blood cells, and low vitamin B 12. If landed me in the hospital for a week and many months of recovering after that. Also the heart palpitations is because your body starts shutting down major orgins when you have this. DO NOT IGNORE THIS, SEE YOU DR.

    • Thank you Tara for bringing that up! I agree, and please get checked out by a doctor! My levels are finally finally up in the “normal” range. I try and encourage people to take this seriously! 🙂

  5. Ugh. I have the same issue currently. Low iron & a crazy addiction to mint. Sometimes I rationalize by saying to myself, “if all you are addicted to is mint you’re not that bad – could be crack!” I was chomping on Tictacs (the dark green ones) that I just went to the store to buy, to satisfy this crack-ish itch… while googling iron & mint addiction.

    I already know about it but it always comes back to me as soon as my iron creeps back down. I figured it out awhile ago that it was directly related to my low iron. I was in some sick way happy to know that I am not the only one sneaking around popping mints. I find it odd that only certain types satisfy my cravings, like I NEED real peppermint extract; not artificial and then like you said when my iron is up – I basically am not phased by mint at all, in fact it makes me feel sick to believe that I could eat a whole bag of lifesavers peppermints in one day. When my oldedt two kids see me with mint now they say,”no mom” and try to confiscate it. It’s so mind blowing that this is real! But it is and after reading your post I took my iron pills and a multivitamin. I will start on my Iron & Herbs Floradix tomorrow. That stuff is the bomb and brings my iron up so fast, I call it my vampire blood. Anyway, thank you for this post. I’m going to make a cup of mint tea now…

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