Does iron deficiency cause irregular menstrual cycles?
During a woman’s years of menstruation, iron needs are a special nutritional concern. On average, women lose about ¼ cup of blood at each menstrual cycle; women with a heavier flow may even lose more. Since iron travels through the blood, some of it is lost with the loss of blood. Women of childbearing age have an RDA of 15 mg per day for iron, which doubles with pregnancy. Women over fifty-one have a lower RDA of 10 mg per day, because most of them have reached menopause and are no longer losing blood (and therefore iron) each month. It is common for women of childbearing age to become iron deficient. A deficiency of iron can cause symptoms that include fatigue and weakness. Deficiency can also lead to anemia. The combination of iron lost through the menstrual cycle, a low dietary intake of iron, frequent dieting, and a low intake of vitamin C all contribute to the problem of iron deficiency. It is helpful not only to eat iron-rich foods, but also to take a multivitamin supplement tha