the science of nutrition

Are You Waking Up Just as Tired as When You Went to Bed? A Lack of This Key Nutrient May Be to Blame.

Paula James-Martinez

Are You Waking Up Just as Tired as When You Went to Bed? A Lack of This Key Nutrient May Be to Blame.

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • Understanding Iron Deficiency: The Silent Fatigue Culprit
  • Signs and Symptoms of an Iron Deficiency
  • An Impact on Your Growing Baby
  • How to Increase Your Iron Intake
  • The Bottom Line

0 min read


At Needed, we understand how much we all are juggling and that fatigue can often be dismissed as a consequence of our busy schedules. However, if you find yourself waking up each morning feeling just as tired as when you went to bed and asking, 'Why am I so tired all the time?' it might be more than just the demands of your day-to-day routine. Iron deficiency, a common but often overlooked nutritional issue, could be the culprit behind your persistent fatigue.

Let's explore how a lack of this key nutrient might be affecting your energy levels and what you can do to reclaim your spark.

Understanding Iron Deficiency: The Silent Fatigue Culprit

Iron is a powerhouse nutrient crucial for the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen to all parts of the body. When iron levels are insufficient, the body struggles to produce an adequate supply of hemoglobin, leading to a condition known as iron deficiency anemia. The result? Fatigue that seems to linger no matter how many hours of sleep you manage to get.

Recent studies have shown that 39 percent of women in the United States are low in Iron. 

Signs and Symptoms of an Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency often manifests in a range of symptoms, and fatigue is a standout among them. Other signs may include:

  • Pale Skin and Weakness: A lack of iron can lead to paleness and a general feeling of weakness.
  • Shortness of Breath: Insufficient oxygen delivery to tissues can cause breathlessness and difficulty catching your breath.
  • Headaches and Dizziness: Reduced oxygen flow to the brain may result in headaches and dizziness.
  • Brittle Nails and Hair Loss: Changes in the texture of nails and hair can be indicative of iron deficiency.
  • Cold Hands and Feet: Poor circulation due to low hemoglobin levels may cause extremities to feel cold.

An Impact on Your Growing Baby

For expectant mothers, iron deficiency takes on an added layer of significance. Iron is crucial during pregnancy, supporting the increased blood volume needed for the developing fetus. Insufficient iron during pregnancy can lead to complications such as premature birth and low birth weight. Therefore, addressing iron deficiency is paramount for the health and well-being of both the mother and the growing baby.

You may have heard about the side effects of iron, which can make people nauseous among other gastrointestinal issues. We totally understand no one wants to risk feeling even more nauseous while pregnant, but as mentioned above optimal iron is a vital pregnancy need. Using a low-dose supplement, such as Needed's Prenatal Iron, and then gradually increasing the amount you take can help alleviate any side effects that may occur when you initially introduce more iron.

How to Increase Your Iron Intake

If persistent fatigue has become a daily struggle, taking proactive steps to address iron deficiency can make a significant difference:

  • Dietary Changes: Incorporate iron-rich foods into your diet, such as lean meats, beans, dark leafy greens, and fortified cereals.
  • Supplementation: At Needed we have developed our Iron supplement bound to Glycine for better absorption and digestive comfort, to combat some of the gastrointestinal issues can occur with some types of iron supplement
  • Vitamin C Intake: Enhance iron absorption by pairing iron-rich foods with those high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and strawberries.
  • Cooking in Cast Iron: Cooking food in cast iron pans can increase the iron content of your meals.
  • Regular Check-ups: Routine blood tests can help monitor your iron levels, enabling early detection and intervention if deficiencies arise.

The Bottom Line

If you've been waking up just as tired as when you went to bed, it's time to consider the role of iron in your overall well-being. By understanding the signs of iron deficiency and taking proactive steps to address it, you can reclaim some control over your energy levels.

Remember, consulting with a healthcare professional is crucial for accurate diagnosis and personalized guidance on how to optimize your iron levels especially if you feel you might be severely depleted. Your body—and your growing baby—will thank you for it.

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Paula James-Martinez, Filmmaker and Editorial Director

Paula James Martinez is a writer, filmmaker, and women's health advocate. She is the director and producer of the documentary Born Free, which investigates the truth about birth and maternal health America. Sits on the boards of non-profit organization "The Mother Lovers" and "4Kira4Moms" to raise awareness of the US maternal health crisis, and co-hosts the parenting podcast "Scruunchy."