Why am I tired all the time?

New Zealand’s favourite well­be­ing ex­pert an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions about their health and well­be­ing.

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH -

Ques­tion: I’mfeel­ing re­ally tired lately and no mat­ter what I do I can’t seem to change it. I’ve tried go­ing to bed ear­lier, I’ve tried re­duc­ing my cof­fee con­sump­tion but I feel tired to my bones. I’ma fe­male and 32 years of age. Do you have any sug­ges­tions for what I should do? Thanks, Sharon.

Hi Sharon, there are many rea­sons why you could be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this tired­ness.With­out know­ing more about your health history or your diet, look­ing at your iron sta­tus would be a great place to start.

Iron de­fi­ciency is still the most com­mon nu­tri­tional de­fi­ciency in the Western world. In Aus­tralia and New Zealand, 20 to 30 per cent of women of child-bear­ing age are iron de­fi­cient. There are so many con­se­quences to this and fa­tigue is just the be­gin­ning.

Low iron lev­els can be caused by mul­ti­ple fac­tors, in­clud­ing poor di­etary iron in­take, poor ab­sorp­tion due to di­ges­tive in­suf­fi­cien­cies, or too many com­pet­ing fac­tors block­ing the ab­sorp­tion of iron.

For ex­am­ple, cal­cium and iron com­pete for ab­sorp­tion and cal­cium al­ways wins, as it is a big­ger sub­stance. So if you only eat iron-rich foods at the same meal as cal­cium-rich foods, then you will ab­sorb very lit­tle iron from that meal.

Another rea­son for low iron lev­els can be blood loss, most com­monly from long-term, heavy men­stru­a­tion. The flip­side of this, how­ever, is that some peo­ple ac­cu­mu­late iron and store too much of it, so it is wise to see your GP and have ‘‘iron stud­ies’’ blood tests to know if you are de­fi­cient or not. Ques­tion: My son has re­cently be­come re­ally fussy when it comes to his food. He used to eat ev­ery­thing, but more re­cently I re­ally strug­gle with get­ting him to eat his veg­eta­bles. Do you have any tips for cre­ative­ways I can sneak them past him? Thanks, Karen.

It’s not un­usual for chil­dren to go through phases where they be­come par­tic­u­larly fussy about flavours, tex­tures and more specif­i­cally veg­eta­bles! Keep in mind also that re­search sug­gests that chil­dren can re­ject foods up to seven times be­fore ac­cept­ing them, so per­sis­tence is key.

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