Your body requires iron to make hemoglobin, the substance in your red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. Without an adequate amount of iron in your bloodstream, your body is unable to get the oxygen it requires.
How much iron do women need?
For women, the normal hemoglobin range is generally defined as 12.0 to 15.5 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood. On average, a woman needs 18 mg of iron a day.
These numbers are different for men because they tend to store more iron in their bodies than women.
Iron deficiency anemia
If your body does not have enough iron, you can develop iron deficiency anemia. Having iron deficiency results in fewer red blood cells being produced by your body and less oxygen is transported from your lungs, making you feel tired.
There are several factors that make iron deficiency anemia more common in women, including pregnancy, significant menstrual bleeding, and uterine fibroids.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that, "Girls between the ages of 14 and 50 years need more iron than boys and men of the same age and that women are at higher risk for iron-deficiency anemia." According to the NHLBI, it's estimated that 20% of women of childbearing age have iron-deficiency anemia.
If you have mild or moderate iron-deficiency anemia, you may not have any signs or symptoms. If you have a more severe case, it can cause tiredness, shortness of breath, or even chest pain.