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What Low Iron REALLY Points To & How to Treat It: Beyond Damaging Iron Supplements

My ENERGY levels are just so low!

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The one thing I hear routinely from mums is how tired they are, which is often attributed to “low iron”. This incredibly common diagnosis is leaving us mums at risk of future disease, leaving the REAL reason behind anemia and low iron status hidden and progressing into MORE COMPLICATED health issues…

These untreated issue are behind chronic, lifestyle, preventable diseases that impact quality of life, vitality, finances and FUN! Let’s not forget longevity…

There are in fact many symptoms that you may experience, beyond fatigue, in relation to iron deficiency and some of them may seem completely unrelated so let’s get familiar with them. Here’s a snapshot of symptoms that can present when there is not enough iron in your body:

  • Fatigue, lack of stamina
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Heart palpitations
  • Pallor
  • Restless legs at night, sore or stiffness in limbs, cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent infections – reduced immune function
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pins and needles
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Dry or cracked lips
  • Brittle nails
  • Unusual cravings for strange things: ice, dirt or starch (called Pica)
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anaemia
  • Symptoms of lead and mercury excess (varied) and copper overload

Phew! There’s probably more…

Understanding the Causes

A lot of detective work is required in understanding what may be behind your low iron levels. In the table below I’ve highlighted the main causes.

  1. The “Elephant” in the room impacting ALL of these: STRESS!
Poor Digestion Lack of Iron Rich Foods Body Can’t Use Iron Auto-immune & Genetic Factors Blood Loss
Low stomach acid

 

Celiac disease

 

Gluten sensitivity

 

Excessive grains

 

Excessive sugar

 

Damaged gut

lining

Bacterial imbalance

 

Excessive calcium from dairy

 

Parasites

 

Vitamin C deficiency

 

Prescription medication

Vegetarian

 

Vegan

 

Raw food

 

Avoiding red meat

 

Poor quality iron supplements

Heavy metal toxicity

 

Mineral imbalance

 

Excessive exercise

 

Copper excess/deficiency

Pernicious anaemia

 

B12 deficiency

 

Folate deficiency

 

MTHFR polymorphisms

 

Pregnant

 

Breastfeeding

 

 

Heavy periods

 

Fibroids

 

Internal bleeding

10 most common causes of iron deficiency I see in clinic:

  1. Stress! NEVER properly addressed, this is likely behind a range of conditions and until we give this aspect of our health the attention it deserves, needless suffering WILL continue. I’ve put this as number 1 for a good reason…
  2. Low stomach acid: these are the people who find meat ‘hard to digest’, as if it ‘just sits there for hours’. A sure sign that the level of your hydrochloric acid is inadequate to digest meat. Too many refined carbs and sugar in the diet can lower stomach acid levels, not to mention over the counter proton pump inhibitor medications (think reflux medicine), specifically designed to lower your acid levels!
  3. Excessive calcium from dairy: calcium competes with iron for absorption and consuming it in excess is detrimental as is consuming anything in excess,  the body needs balance. The kicker here is for women who are addicted to their daily cuppa: cappuccinos, chai lattes and flat whites; tannins from tea and coffee ALL significantly reduce iron absorption.
  4. Another factor to consider is unbalanced biochemistry: if you have heavy metal and copper toxicity, these will block iron.
  5. Vitamin C is required for proper iron absorption and those eating the “standard” diet are at serious risk of deficiency, fresh produce is a good source and a healthy gut!
  6. Those who have unbalanced gut flora (dysbiosis) which is MOST of us from our hygiene focused approach to life, lack of breastfeeding, poor diet and repeated administration of antibiotics. Pathogenic bacterial species feed on iron and deplete our energy. Investigating gut function is a critical step to restoring a healthy balance.
  7. Many women are deficient in B group vitamins, especially folate (B9) and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency takes up to 5 years to develop and are very common, particularly for vegetarians and vegans. By the time you experience symptoms like tingling in feet and hands, chances are you are already severely deficient. B12 is vital for digestion and with so many women at risk, and poor pathology markers this is a significant concern. Another predisposing factor may be an MTHFR polymorphism which needs to be investigated.
  8. There are also certain lifestyle factors that contribute to low iron such as lots of exercise, running around after children, heavy menses. These can usually be well addressed simply by ensuring adequate dietary iron!
  9. A lot of women experience heavy bleeding and many have hormonal imbalance which tends to exacerbate this issue. This leads directly to low iron and needs to be addressed. As do other causes for ongoing blood loss such as internal bleeding.
  10. Poor quality iron supplements the ones typically prescribed do not absorb well and cause constipation. Treatment with the right supplementation is critical. Never supplement iron without having your levels checked and understanding the cause of deficiency. Same rule  applies for all supplements which alter your biochemistry.
  11. Leaky gut (intestinal permeability) is a significant issue  in this day and age and is often caused by gluten intolerance. Inflammation in the gut directly leads to poor absorption.

To fully resolve iron deficiency, low iron or even anemia you WILL need an approach that:

  1. investigates the “root cause”
  2. resolves imbalances discovered
  3. provides the right nutrition approach
  4. addressed “stress”
  5. sets you up for long term health, wellness AND vitality

Unresolved iron issues will have consequences. If you are  ready to get your health RESOLVED at the CORE PILLARS then join me for the “Root Cause Resolution” program (next program starts October 10th ONLINE), a proven step-by-step system that will resolve the underlying reasons for dis-ease and set you up with resilient health for the future and give you back your ENERGY!

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