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Anemia or Low Ferritin: The Misunderstood Symptom

What many might not know is that anemia is a symptom of something else occurring inyour body. What this means is that it isn’t the cause, it’s happening as a result ofsomething else. This can occur through one of three ways:

1. You might be losing more blood than you are replacing (usually from
menstruation, but also nose-bleeds, blood donation, hemorrhoids)
2. You’re not absorbing efficiently from what you are eating or supplementing
3. Your bone marrow may not be making enough blood to keep your body in

For example, for women who have periods, menses is typically the culprit of anemia or low Ferritin (a level under 40 is actually too low and can cause hair-thinning). The first step in addressing your anemia is to get some medical help to get to the root cause of why you are bleeding, stop it and/or manage it and begin supplementation. It is important to manage because iron is important for growth and development, mood, motivation, vim and vigor. Iron also helps our body make hemoglobin and myoglobin, which are proteins in the body that carry oxygen.

What can I do about anemia or low ferritin?

Ferrous Sulfate 325mg has 65mg of elemental iron and it is a good supplement to start with. It can however be hard on your stomach, so some supplements that are easier to digest include Ferrous Gluconate 325mg which has only 35mg of elemental iron (you’d need to take two a day!), a prenatal vitamin with iron, or Floradix which is a plant based liquid supplement. It is always best to take your iron supplement with food and Vitamin C (at least 500mg) as it can help with absorption. Look for brands (eg. ‘Blood Builder’ or ‘Raw Iron’) that have vitamin C mixed right into the same pill, along with B12 and Folate. Don’t be alarmed, iron supplements can turn your stool dark or even black, this is
normal though!

But, what if the supplements aren’t helping?

In addition to taking a supplement or if your body keeps fighting you and won’t tolerate those supplements, working towards an iron rich diet is a great next step. Food contains two types of iron; they are called heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is what is found in meats, especially liver and other organ meats, fish or dark poultry and it is more completely absorbed by your body than non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is found in plant based foods like nuts, fruits or vegetables. However, when you eat non-heme and heme iron foods together, it makes all the iron even better absorbed!

Some examples of heme iron foods are red meats, dark meat of chicken, clams, scallops, tuna, liverwurst or eggs (any way you make ‘em!). If you are vegetarian, fear not, the list of non-heme iron rich foods is long and includes all dark greens like spinach, kale, chard, sweet potatoes, tofu, beans, strawberries, dates, figs and so many more.

If you are concerned about anemia or your Ferritin level, energy, hair-thinning, mood or motivation and want to discuss it more, make sure to reach out to your provider, they’d love to help!

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