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Mature older coupleIron For Seniors

Did you know...?

An estimated 10-11% of seniors aged 65 and older have anemia, though not all anemia is caused by a deficiency of iron. (The rate of anemia is even higher for older adults in nursing homes with about 50% having anemia.)


Furthermore, those diagnosed with anemia are 40% more likely to have problems that keep them from being independent.


Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency and the #1 cause of anemia in the United States; however in the senior population it is the #2 cause of anemia. Among the elderly, the causes of iron deficiency include:

  • slow blood loss over time (i.e. bleeding stomach ulcer)
  • lack of iron in diet (i.e. avoiding meat or iron-rich foods)
  • inadequate or poor absorption of iron (i.e. low levels of stomach acid can affect iron absorption)


It is important to point out that symptoms of iron deficiency should not be considered a natural part of aging or getting older. These are signs that something is wrong, and you should discuss them with your doctor. Symptoms include: fatigue, weakness, pale skin, chest pain, dizziness, irritability, numbness or coldness in the hands and feet, trouble breathing, a fast heartbeat and headaches.


Symptoms are a good indicator, but it will require blood tests for iron to determine if you have iron deficiency anemia. Iron supplements will help with your iron stores, but it is equally critical to identify and treat the underlying cause of your deficiency, whether it’s an ulcer or poor diet.




  1. J. Anderson and C. Fitzgerald. Iron: An Essential Nutrient. 6/2010. Available at: . Accessed 11/4/2011.
  2. Quick Facts about Anemia. National Anemia Action Council. 2008; Available at: Accessed 11/4/2011.
  3. Handouts: Anemia and Aging. National Anemia Action Council. 1/14/2009; Available at: Accessed 11/4/2011.