Mammoth Health

Are you Getting enough Iron?

Iron is involved in numerous physiological processes.

The primary function of iron in the body is to support the formation of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body so it can be used to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) or cellular energy. This is why, if we are low in iron, we often feel tired.

However, many people do not consume adequate amounts of iron in their diets or their digestive system is compromised so iron is not readily absorbed by the body. The most vulnerable to iron deficiency are infants, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, vegetarian & vegans, people on diets, pre-menopausal women and people with bleeding problems.

Do you have signs of Low Iron?

Symptoms

  • Fatigue and lack of stamina
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Pale complexion, cheeks, lips and tongue
  • Easy bruising
  • Sore tongue and canker sores in the mouth
  • A general state of apathy, irritability and lack of enthusiasm for life.
  • Lack of attention and concentration
  • Lowered immunity
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pica – a strange symptom in children particularly, where iron deficiency may cause eating and sucking on inedible objects such as dirt, clay or ice.

Causes

  • A diet low in iron-containing foods
  • Reduced absorption of iron from our food due to low stomach acid or taking medications like antacids
  • Blood loss due to heavy menstrual periods, uterine fibroids, haemorrhoids or intestinal bleeding as in ulcers or colitis
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding when iron needs are much higher
  • Periods of rapid growth and development eg adolescents and children

Naturopathic Treatment

  • Take an iron supplement to build up iron levels. (liquid irons are gentle on the stomach and easily absorbed)
  • Increase iron-containing foods in the diet (eg lean red meats, chicken, fish)
  • Eat foods rich in Vitamin C to help increase iron absorption (or supplement with Vitamin C)
  • The B-Group Vitamins especially B12 and folic acid are used for red blood cell formation
  • Herbs such as Withania and Nettle naturally contain iron
  • Spirulina is a great way to increase iron levels as it is a natural super food which is easily absorbed

Diet & Lifestyle Tips to Increase your Iron Levels

  • Get your iron levels (and B12 levels) checked regularly especially if you are a vegetarian/vegan, teenager, menstruating woman, pregnant or elderly
  • Heme-iron sourced from the animal kingdom (eg red meat, chicken, eggs and shellfish) is much more readily absorbed than non-heme foods (eg plant foods – millet, oats, brown rice, legumes, almonds, brazils and most seeds. Dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and raisins as well as blackstrap molasses have good levels of iron). Eating foods rich in Vitamin C or supplementing with Vitamin C will improve iron absorption.
  • Phosphates found in meats and soft drinks, oxalates found in spinach, chard and other vegetables and Phytates present in whole grains may bind some of the iron making it difficult to absorb.
  • The caffeine and tannic acid found in coffee and black tea will inhibit iron absorption so always drink your cuppas at least an hour away from meals

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