What is ​Iron-Deficiency Anemia?

This is the most common cause of anemia. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when there is too little iron in the body to make healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells last for only 120 days, so the body has to continually make new red blood cells. Iron is required in the production of normal red blood cells, and is a key “ingredient” in the production of hemoglobin.

When you have iron deficiency, the red blood cells aren’t produced as quickly as needed, and those that are present are small and pale due to insufficient hemoglobin production. There may not be sufficient iron in storage sites in the body as well, making it more difficult to recover from anemia if you have blood loss. This condition is suggested when your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels are below normal. But low iron stores are possible even if your blood count is normal. So, your doctor may order other tests to help diagnose iron-deficiency including serum ferritin which indicates how much iron is stored in your body, and serum iron and iron-binding capacity which indicates how much iron in your body is available for immediate use by the bone marrow.