oh the irony, because i want all of the iron, in me... (get it haha)
*this information is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, perevent or cure any conditions, nor is intended to constitute advice on which reliance should be placed. Any information in this blog should be discussed with your health care practitioner.
So, in regards to me deleting my social media apps and having a detox (it’s okay Dr. Dre I still love you), it was so totally fun and its like you actually live in a different realm, where theres no distractions. So I just did my thing, and worked on filling myself back up. On that note, so I’ve had low iron for ages now, and whether its coz im plant based or not I don’t even know. Like I never got my iron checked when I was omni or vego, so I don’t have a reference point to compare to. But moral of the story is, anaemia is shit as fuck haha. Like I just cant wait till my iron’s rocking at a dope level because if I’m going to be feeling like a legit magician haha.
So I thought I’d do this blog & post my first youtube video / blab about it (heres the vid link; ), as low iron’s something that’s quite common. 15.3% of yung women are iron-deifcient or anaemic (Brancatisano, 2016) in Australia (because we bleed monthly hence why guys are less likely to be affected by low iron, im not cutting yu out boys).
So iron is one of the most abundant trace minerals in our bodies, and what it does is it sits in the middle of our hemeglobin and transports oxygen from our lunges to our muscles and cells and takes CO2 back to the lungs, so we can perform muscular contractions and create energy, and breathe and be alive haha. Iron is also involed in the synthesis of all the best neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline, as well as collagen formation – with collagen making up all our connective tissues, from muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, nails, etc etc. So iron’s kind of a MVP for being a thriving millennial.
Iron is absorbed in our gut, (which we’ll link into why having good gut health is integral to iron absorption and just general awesomeness), and our body always recycles iron and absorbs as much as it can always (as there is not physiological mechanism for excretion which is actually kinda cool). It gets stored as Ferritin. Theres the two forms of iron in our diet as we know – heme = animal iron, and non-heme = plants, with heme iron being more easily absorbed (15-45% for heme vs 2-20% for non-heme). Vitamin C is also irons bestie and speeds up its restoration and can help its absorption between 30-600% (I know what a massive range hahah).
So the key 4 reasons why you might be deficient are 1) a shit diet, where you’re not consuming enough iron, protein or other micronutrients to aid in its absorption and utilisation, 2) gut inflammation / chronic disease / autoimmune / leaky gut (check our our blog on gut health too!!) & low stomach acid, 3) internal bleeding and 4) parasites.
So its really cool with being a nutritionist the importance of combining foods that marry mineral and vitamin absorption.
Iron’s nemesis’ include grains and seeds as they contain phytic acid, dark leafy greens contain oxalates, coffee & cacao also contain polyphenols that block iron absorption (dw we’ll go into how to avoid this so we get to keep eating them coz life without coffee and cacao would be depressing af and pun included coz you need iron to not feel shitty haha), and soy also blocks irons absorption, because of its calcium content.
So eating your dark leafy greens with a citrus whether it be lemon or lime, or apple cider vinegar, or adding capsicum or carrot or beetroot to your yums will help your body to absorp the iron and break down the oxalates (anti-nutrient property) in the dark leaf veggies.
With the grains and seeds, and soy – fermenting, soaking and/or cooking these foods eradicates the phytic acids, so just ensure youre consuming them correctly to not block iron.
So now we know what iron does, what to do to ensure we’re not cock blocking its absorption, lets further explore signs of low iron. Besides feeling fatigued, flat, unmotivated, irregular moods, you might also get tingling in your fingers and toes, light headedness, shortness of breath, headaches, constipation, your nails will change and be more brittle and ribbed.
A quick way to see if you’re on the lower end of the giant iron spectrum is if you have pale eyelids (like pull down your bottom eyelid and suss its red juiciness. Next step is go get your blood taken and suss out your results (plz get them printed out always). Like my quick story is im sitting at 10.5 (anaemic is 10) and my doctors like “your irons in the healthy range” and I’m like DUDE I KNOW IM FUCKING LOW AND DYING OF FATIGUE DON’T TELL ME IM IN THE HEALTHY RANGE, and that’s the end of my story.
So if you’re chilling in a decent space and feel dope, go you you da bomb, if youre sitting in a shitty range then onto step 2 of addressing why, whethers its 1,2,3 or 4. I’m a fan of supplementing iron and using foods to boost and keep iron happy. Not all iron supplements are created equal, look for a glycinate, bisgylcinate or citrate, or chelate. Others can cause constipation which is the general concern about peeps needing to take iron. Also liquid iron, like Spa Tone or Floradix are also absorbed better. Also, having low B12 and jus B’s in general, will also adhere irons absorption, so get your bloods checked also for B12 and folate (the active form too, as a deficiency in folate can mask a B12 and vice versa).
OKAY SO IRON RICH FOODS;
You’ve got kelp taking first place (random I know), with red meats/seafood, lentils, chickpeas / (all the legumes), pumpkin seeds, nuts, seed, avocado, asparagus, peas, endive, squash, kale and spirulina!
Building iron takes a minimum of 3 months, so do all the good things and then re-asses your levels in 3 months. If your iron isn’t climbing then its good to work with a practitioner and explore why – is there autoimmune conditions going on? GI inflammation and issues, or is there a parasite stealing all your iron. Each of these approaches is a bit more in depth, but feel free to message me if you experience any or think it might be the case and we can get into it J
And so you can see how low iron impacts not only your ability to perform and feel amazing, but also your mental wellbeing, negatively impacting your bodies ability to make serotonin and dopamine, which can impact our mood, us in making us feel unmotivated, sad, confused and just meh. And this in turn impacts our ability to chase our dream and live out our purpose and just feel amazing. We love iron, and iron loves us.
That’s the end of my story
Brancatisano, E 2016, ‘Iron Deficiency Among Young Aussie Women Is On The Rise’, Huffington Post, 29 December, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/12/28/iron-deficiency-among-young-aussie-women-is-on-the-rise_a_21643616/>
Hurrell, R & Egli, I 2010, ‘Iron bioavailability and dietary reference values’, Am J Clinc Nutr, vol. 91, no. 5, pp. 14615-14675, doi: 10.3945/jcn.2010.28674F
Kirschmann, J.D & Nutrition Search Inc., 2007, Nutrition Almanac, 6th ed, McGraw Hill, New York.
Pitchford, P 1993, Healing with wholefoods, revised edition, North Atlantic Books, Berkely California.