Feeling tired and cold? Maybe you are iron deficient #WellbeingWednesday
Since my blog on Vitamin B12, I have had many questions about Iron. Iron and B12 are not the same thing. Iron deficiency is amongst one of the most common deficiencies that I see in my Naturopathic practice. Signs that you may be low in iron can include fatigue, a pale complexion, hair loss and general weakness. Many people who are iron deficient report feeling cold. An interesting symptom of iron deficiency that was recently taught to me by one of my patients was that she always craves ice when her levels are low. Yes, craving ice can be a sign of iron deficiency! The medical term for this is “Pica” and it means craving something of no nutritional value. If you think that you might be low in iron we can check your levels. A blood test will be performed. It is important to look at all of the below:
Serum Ferritin Levels: they will be low if you are iron deficient HOWEVER if you are someone that suffers from a lot of inflammation this value may be falsely elevated .Serum Iron: your levels will be low if you are iron deficient.Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC): can be high if you are iron deficientMCV: your mean corpuscular volume may be off, this can be caused by an iron deficiency or a microcytic anemia.Stool testing: Your doctor may even test your stool to test for bleeding.Diet, diet, diet! Most cases of iron deficiency are from not getting enough in your diet. Meats and poultries contain iron. If you are a vegan or vegetarian like me try pumpkin seeds, spinach, lentils or even some black stray molasses. If you are found to be deficient you might also be prescribed an iron supplement. My favorite iron is a supplement called Proferrin. Proferrin contains heme-iron from a bovine source (this is not a vegetarian formula). I really find that when my patients use this easy to absorb supplement they improve quickly. People always ask me the best time to take iron; avoid taking it with calcium as calcium will decrease its absorption. Also, avoid taking iron with coffee or tea as they can also decrease its absorption. A small percentage of people find that taking iron at night keeps them awake . You may help increase the absorption by taking it with Vitamin C or some lemon water. If you think you might be low in iron get your levels checked and your Naturopathic Doctor can work with you to find the cause of your deficiency and to fix it.