What Is Iron?
Iron is an element within the blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is essential for most bodily functions and chemical reactions. Having low iron levels can leave your body feeling oxygen deprived and in most cases is not life threatening although the symptoms can affect the quality of you life and make simple day to day tasks very difficult. If you do have an iron deficiency you may experience all of some of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue and overall weakness of the body and mind
- Exhaustion and lack of motivation
- Anxiety & panic attacks
- Poor appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Lack of concentration
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Feeling faint of dizzy (especially when standing up to quickly)
- Weakened immune system
- Paleness of the skin
- Restless limbs and weak limbs
- Cold hands and feet
- Unexplained bruising or easily bruising
Testing Your Iron Levels
Fortunately having your iron levels tested is quite simple and usually covered by Medicare (please check this with your doctor before proceeding). You can book in with your GP or visit the local medical centre to express any symptoms you may be experiencing and ask him or her to run and ‘iron studies’ test. Check back in with your doctor once the results are in. It is recommended to keep a hard copy of your blood work for personal referencing. If you do have low iron levels you may need to make a few adjustments in diet or lifestyle (see “how to treat low iron” further down the page).
Reasons Why Your Iron Levels May Be Low
- Unbalanced diet (usually with vegetarians or vegans)
- Absorption issues / gut dysbiosis
- Heavy menstrual cycles
- Parasitic infections
In some cases:
- Bowel cancer
- Internal bleeding
Ways Of Treating Low Iron
Low iron and iron deficiency can be treated with a diet high in iron rich foods or supplements.
Heme iron: Found in meat based sources of iron
- Red meat
- Beef and chicken livers
- Muscles and oysters
Non Heme iron: Found in plant based sources of iron
- Black bean
- Kidney beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cacao / dark chocolate
- Dried apricots
It is important to pair your non heme foods with foods high in ascorbic acid and vitamin C to maximise the absorption rate as non heme iron is not as easily absorbed by the digestive tract as heme iron.
Other Ways Of Treating Low Iron
Supplementing should be considered when your diet may be low in iron. See your trusted health practitioner for iron recommendation. It may take a little trial and error when it comes to finding the supplement that causes the least side effects. Conventional iron supplements can cause cramping and in some cases it can cause corrosion of the mucosal layer of the gut. Iron supplements can often cause constipation as it is the bodies natural response to hold onto excess iron, to avoid this pair iron with vitamin C or find a brand that already includes vitamin C in each tablet. Taking good quality magnesium may also help relieve constipation.
An iron infusion is taking iron intravenously through a drip. Some people may take this option as it is very quick and effective way to replenish iron levels as quickly as possible in one foul swoop. An iron transfusion will become effective anywhere from 1-10 days. The infusion itself will last about 45 mins – 1.5 hrs.
Supporting The Gut
If poor absorption or parasitic infection is the reason behind your deficiency then it might be time for supporting the gut with herbs, supplements, colonics and a change in diet and lifestyle. All therapist at PH clinic are well equipped with knowledge and skills to start you on this journey. Intestinal plaque, leaky gut and parasitic infections will leave you feeling entirely nutrient deprived and the lack of energy may not be caused by low iron alone.
Although you are fixing the problem with supplements or infusion, it is still important to investigate why your iron may be low in the first place. Investigating the root cause will allow you to avoid dealing with the same issues in the future and make you feel more connected to your body.
Written by Joh
This blog is written by Joh our Colonic Hydrotherapist. Joh is extremely passionate about helping people get healthy and well and brings to the clinic an abundance of determination, attention to detail and most importantly empathy as she’s been on a similar journey.
“…it was such a blessing to find pH clinic, now that I am working here I have the opportunity provide to others what the clinic has provided for me…”
You can find Joh in the clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays, Sundays and the occasional Saturday. To book in with Joh, click here.