When Should You Consider an Iron Supplement?
When we are feeling tired and weak or a little out of breath upon exertion, we most often do not think of our iron levels as being responsible. However, this one mineral can sometimes be the root cause of some unexplained symptoms. Women are more likely to be low in iron during their reproductive years but don't rule out the troubles of a deficiency if you are older and of the opposite sex. Iron deficiency can affect men or women of any age. It is required to produce hemoglobin in
your red blood cells. Red blood cells, via hemoglobin, carry oxygen through your cells to every part of your body and organ systems. If your blood cells are not healthy, your body can't produce enough oxygen. And when your tissues, muscles and organs, including your heart, do not receive a sufficient amount of oxygen, it will cause your body to work twice as hard. The reduced oxygen also causes you to feel tired, weak, faint, dizzy and short of breath. You may even get headaches or heart palpitations. Your body relies on a protein called "ferritin" to regulate your blood levels of iron. Ferritin will help store iron in the blood and release iron if concentrations are low. Your body can store iron for up to 3 years for men but only one year for women. Your body continually loses iron through normal processes such as urination, defecation, sweating, and sloughing off skin cells. Conditions such as menstruation, pregnancy, cancer, surgery, bowel disorders (diverticulitis, polys, IBC, Crohns, ulcerative colitis,) stomach disorders and uterine fibroids may also affect your iron levels.
How Can You Get More of this Good Stuff?
This mineral is so vital that your body will store some iron (approximately 25%) of your required iron for future use, but even this level can get depleted. The rest of your iron requirements must be obtained from your diet. Good dietary sources of iron include red meat, liver, egg yolk, beans, nuts, and fortified cereals. How well your body absorbs iron depends on the source of iron you consume and how healthy your gut is (you need a healthy gut to absorb iron). The most common iron supplement recommended is "Ferrous Iron" because it is cheaper, provides a high dose of iron per tablet, and gets absorbed by the body quicker. However, it does have potential side effects such as nausea,
bloating, heart burn, abdominal pain, constipation, and black/tarry stools. Constipation associated with taking “Ferrous Iron” is related to the imbalance of gut microbes that is caused by this particular form of iron. An imbalance in your gut microbes can slow down peristalsis (the movement of feces through the colon), which results in feces staying in the colon longer. This results in more water being absorbed by the colon (causing dryer feces), further resulting in constipation. When choosing an iron supplement, we suggest that you consider a plant-based iron supplement such as Mega Food Blood Builder. It is made from real food sources (beets, oranges) with added nutrients and has been clinically proven to increase iron levels without common gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea or constipation. It also includes folic acid and B12 for healthy red blood cell production, and vitamin C to support iron absorption. Another option for Iron supplementation is IRONsmart. It has a new delivery system called (liposomal bubble) that allows the iron to pass through the high-acid stomach environment and go directly to the small intestine, where it is absorbed. It comes in a liquid that tastes like caramels and IRONsmart capsules as well. When taking an iron supplement, you should never take more than what is recommended. If you have health concerns, please consult with your medical advisor.
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