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How Are Your Iron Levels… And What To Do About It

Iron deficiency anemia is a significant and common health problem.  

Do you ‘feel pale’, have fatigue, low motivation, mood disturbances, shortness of breath, weakness, restless legs, dizziness, a sore tongue, headaches, hair loss and/or brittle nails?

Also a simple way check for potential anemia is to look at the inside of your bottom eyelid: is it very pale? If it is, this could mean you’re low in iron.

There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. The difference is mainly that heme iron is found in animal products while non-heme is found in leafy greens and other plant sources. About 15-30% of heme iron from animals is absorbed in the human gut, depending on your current iron stores.

Meaning, if you are low in iron, you will absorb up to almost a third of what you take in.

Unfortunately non-heme iron is even lower, being absorbed only at 2-20% of what is taken in. This absorption rate is less affected by what your stores are like, and more by what other foods and beverages you have in your system at the same time.

The good news is that iron-deficiency anemia is treatable. Using a range of therapies, blood iron levels and body iron stores can be raised to healthy levels and restore proper cellular functioning, oxygen delivery and energy levels. A good treatment plan must also investigate and address the cause of low iron—poor absorption, poor diet, excessive bleeding, etc.

  1. Diet is one of the easiest approaches. Start by increasing green leafy vegetables in your diet, also red cabbage, parsley, beets, alfalfa, watercress, wheat grass, spinach, cucumbers, tomato juice, fish, coconuts, eggs, black strap molasses, black cherry and blackberry juice.

  2. An important addition for iron therapy is supplementation. There are many different forms of supplements and some are better absorbed than others. Seek advice on this.

  3. Pay attention to other things that may be affecting your iron levels. Some tips:

  4. Taking iron with vitamin C helps absorption, speeding up results for iron therapy

  5. Taking digestive enzymes may help you absorb better as well, especially if you have problems digesting dairy and protein properly

  6. Taking antacid tablets with calcium can interfere with iron absorption and lead to iron deficiency

  7. Coffee, tea and wine contain polyphenols can also reduce the absorption of iron in the gut

  8. Low folic acid and B12 levels can look like iron-deficiency anemia, so it might be necessary for you to also supplement with these nutrients.

  9. Low stomach acid levels may contribute to low iron by decreasing your ability to digest foods properly. You may want to check with your health care provider.

  10. Minerals (calcium, zinc and copper) can affect the absorption of iron so it is best to take your iron supplement with Vitamin C and away from other supplements that contain minerals

  11. Phytic acid found in grains, leafy greens, soy and other legumes can inhibit iron absorption

  12. Last but not least, parasites in the body can also drastically reduce iron levels. If there is any chance you have picked up a parasite, its eradication is essential to reversing iron-deficiency anemia.

If you have any questions on your personal situation, head over to the Nutrition For Life Community and ask me question. Just ask to join first.  I am only to happy to help you.

Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Hope this helps 🙂

Courtesy of Dr Christina Bjorndal

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