Iron Deficiency—Know Its Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

This article written for and published in Consumer Health Digest (10/07/17)

Iron Deficiency

Editor’s Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
Did you know that iron deficiency anemia affects more people than any other condition?[1] For some of you that may be surprising, given the fact that many people aren’t aware of the health concern and what it involves.

I was one of these people, until I was diagnosed with it myself a few years ago. The symptoms can be mild to severe and they usually develop over a period of time.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have an iron deficiency and may attribute their troubles to something else (such as stress, a hormonal imbalance, another malady or just daily living).

With an estimated 1.6 billion people globally suffering from iron deficiency anemia, it is important to be aware of the problem, the cause, the symptoms and treatment.[2]

What Is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where your blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. It typically is caused by an insufficient amount of iron in the body. This can result from numerous causes including lack of iron in your diet, iron absorption issues, or blood loss in the body from an ulcer, polyp, cancer or some other illness.

It can also be caused by heavy periods in women, especially during perimenopause. Without enough iron, the body can’t produce* hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body and a multitude of symptoms can occur.[3]

Iron stores in the body, measured by your ferritin level (a protein in your blood) can also become depleted; leaving you feeling tired all of the time and operating at a low energy level. In addition, it may cause problems that affect your thinking and could affect your personality.

Common Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency Anemia Include:

Fatigue, Disorientation, Memory issues, Moodiness, Irritability, Depression, Hair loss, Anxiety, Sleepiness And More

Iron Deficiency Anemia Info

How Is Iron Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed?

If you are concerned about iron deficiency anemia, schedule a visit with your doctor. Your physician should ask you various questions about your health and symptoms. Most likely they will run a blood test to see if your hemoglobin level is low.

Keep in mind that hemoglobin levels vary for men, women and children and there is a set normal range for each. If your hemoglobin levels are normal however, but your symptoms still match those of iron deficiency, make sure your doctor also tests your ferritin levels, which shows the iron stores in your body.

It is possible to have a normal hemoglobin level and still be iron deficient. This was the case for me. Having an iron-binding test is also a good idea to observe the iron saturation level in your blood.

How Is Iron Deficiency Anemia Treated?

If your doctor determines you have an iron deficiency, don’t worry, it is treatable. Your doctor will feasibly prescribe taking iron supplements, which will help build your iron levels back up. They may recommend a certain dosage and particular brand, depending on your situation.

Most iron supplements contain around 25 mg of iron and should be taken with food and some sort of a vitamin C supplement (to help avoid stomach upset and aid* in absorption).

I found a vegetable-based iron supplement worked best for me, after trying several brands. Some iron supplements cause bloating, nausea or dark stools. Play around to find one that works best for you.

Additionally, your doctor will very likely suggest eating an iron-rich diet. This is important, as it takes time to bring your iron levels back to a normal range. Remember your iron level typically doesn’t get depleted overnight, so eating a healthy diet, including plenty of whole foods, will help boost* your body’s ability to build iron and function properly.

Your body needs a variety of nutrients to produce* skin, muscle, hair, fingernails, bone and more. Moreover, it needs nutrients for your blood to carry oxygen to all parts of the body and to carry out hosts of other bodily functions.
Most nutrients you need come from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and meat. Processed foods may contain some nutrients your body needs, but definitely not the same amount or the quality you get when you eat whole foods.

If you do choose to eat some processed foods, make sure you look for products fortified with iron, such as breads and cereal. Make sure you also read the packaging labels to determine the amount of iron contained in the product, as well as the other ingredients.

It is always best to avoid packaged items with a long list of ingredients, those with hard to pronounce names, additives and ones with sugar at the top of the list.

What Foods Will Help Build Iron?

There many foods available that contain iron to boost* your energy. Although not everyone eats meat, it is a good choice if you are iron deficient. Meat contains heme iron, which is found in animals and typically attached to proteins, called heme proteins.

Heme is the best source of iron for people who are iron deficient. Non-heme iron food choices are beneficial too. They can be found in vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, some processed foods and iron supplements.[4]

Good Sources Of Heme Iron:

Beef, Chicken, Oysters, Turkey, Ham, Veal, Tuna, Liver, Salmon, Egg, Shrimp, Chicken Liver, Lamb and Pork Loin

Good Sources Of Non-Heme Iron:

  • Cereal
  • Beans – Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Noodles – Rice
  • Apricots
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.)
  • Molasses
  • Broccoli[5]

Alternative Treatments To Try For Iron Deficiency Anemia

Acupuncture and Herbs

Besides taking iron supplements and eating an iron-rich diet, there are a number of other things you can try to build your iron including: acupuncture, herbs and essential oils.

Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat* anemia and symptoms of tiredness, weakness and more.[6] Often times, it is used in conjunction with herbs to build and nourish the blood.

There are also a number of essential oils that can be beneficial to those suffering with iron deficiency. Lemon oil in particular helps stimulate the production of red and white blood cells.

I used to add a drop of lemon oil to my morning glass of water to help get my energy going for the day.

Other citrus oils such as grapefruit and orange can help promote iron absorption and alleviate* fatigue, as well. Make sure you choose a therapeutic grade and read up on application methods.

References

1 Wpadmin. “22 Shocking Iron Deficiency Anemia Statistics.” HRFnd. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.
2 Wpadmin. “22 Shocking Iron Deficiency Anemia Statistics.” HRFnd. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.
3 Mayo Clinic Staff Print. “Iron Deficiency Anemia.” Overview – Iron Deficiency Anemia – Mayo Clinic. N.p., 11 Nov. 2016. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
4 “Iron We Consume.” Idi. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2016. http://www.irondisorders.org/iron-weconsume/
5 “Top Iron-Rich Foods List.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.
http://www.webmd.com/diet/iron-rich-foods#1
https://www.theacupunctureclinic.co.nz/acuncture-for-anemia/

Image Credits
Feature Image: Shutterstock.com
In-Post Image: www.medindia.net & Shutterstock.com

Less Is More When It Comes To Your Health…

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Less is More,” but how many of you really believe in this concept or practice it?

Less Is More!
Less Is More!

Sadly, many people don’t and may not understand the benefits. It is easy to see why. We live in a fast-paced society that promotes working hard, gaining wealth and buying, buying, buying. While there is nothing wrong with wanting nice things and working hard for them, over time all of these things tend to accumulate and can actually block your energy. As a matter of fact, having too many things can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information, as it competes for your attention. It can also promote stress and cause anxiety. That is why it is important to practice the concept of less is more from time to time.

One way to practice a little of the less is more concept is to declutter your work space and home periodically. Some people do this now and again, but others tend to let stuff build up. I have always been more of a neat freak then a person who collects or hoards things, but over the years, we’ve definitely collected way more than we need. Last week, however, it was time to get a little decluttering on and open my mind to some new possibilities.

Open your mind
Open your mind

We are in the process of down-sizing and will be moving sometime this fall and this was the week to list our house.  I knew I would have to get rid of some things for the move, but after meeting with the staging person our realtor sent over, it was time to get to work. I started boxing up pictures, personal items and lots of books to make the house look less personal. By the end of the week, I made at least 5 trips to the Goodwill and I have to admit, it felt good. Who knew letting go of some stuff could produce such good feelings?

packing
packing

In reality, practicing the less is more concept can be freeing and can help contribute to living a healthy life-style. What’s more, the less is more concept can be applied in other areas of your life besides decluttering. You can also apply it towards making conscious choices in your diet.

Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables

In my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, I talk a little about how less is more in regards to eating. These days, sugar is included in almost everything processed. We all could stand to eat less foods filled with sugar, eat less processed foods and sip less sugar-filled drinks to stay healthy. Instead of choosing that sugary donut for breakfast, why not choose something a little more wholesome, like an omelette with fresh vegetables? Instead of choosing a sugar-filled coffee drink from your local coffee shop, why not opt for a black coffee with a little cream and then add your own sweetener? You can make healthy choices with your snacks too. Why not grab a handful of nuts for an afternoon snack versus a bag of Doritos? Nuts contain protein, fiber and good fats your body needs and are way better for you than a bag of chips, which typically contains a lot of ingredients, that aren’t good for you. The bottom line is we can all make better choices in our daily living to create a healthier life-style.

Following are a few ways you can practice the less is more concept in your life.

  1. Downsize your wardrobe:
    Take an inventory of your closet. How many of your clothes have you actually worn over the last year. Get rid of any items you haven’t worn in that time-frame.
  2. Get rid of some shoes:
    Many people have way more shoes than they really need. Again—get rid of any shoes you haven’t worn in the last year, just like your clothes.
  3. Clean up the garage:
    The garage is another place that quickly accumulates stuff. Organize the stuff you use on a regular basis and get rid of the stuff that is sitting in the corner, or on that bench that you haven’t used in years, such as an old tent, or camping gear.
  4. Get rid of old paint:
    Many people save paint cans thinking they may need that left-over paint again. Old paint is great for touching up nail holes, or knicks in a wall, but if you’re never going to use it again, get rid of it!
  5. Down-grade your kitchen items:
    It is funny how kitchen items, such as lids for containers can accumulate. I don’t know about you, but I always seem to end up with extra lids that don’t match up to any bowl. Go through your lid drawer or cupboard from time to time and get rid of any unmatched lids. The same holds true to other kitchen items. If you have something that doesn’t match, or you haven’t used the item in forever, get rid of it.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

5 Summertime Slimming Foods

Awe summertime!

There’s so much to enjoy! One of the things I look forward to in the summer is the fresh produce and what better way to enjoy a beautiful day than eating some summertime slimming food like watermelon! It’s juicy, delicious and refreshing and who doesn’t like a little watermelon juice running down their face in the summer?

eating watermelon

Watermelon is not the only refreshing food plentiful in the summer either, which is a good thing. Garden fresh vegetables are always plentiful, whether you grow your own, find them at a farmers market, or buy some locally grown produce at the grocery store. Some people get fresh vegetables weekly from a Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA). If you’re not familiar with CSAs, they are groups made up of farmers in a particular area who work directly with consumers to buy their crops. These farmers typically offer a number of “crop shares” to people in their local community. I talk a little about CSA memberships and how they work in my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living. If you are interested, you can find it on Amazon.

In this blog, I thought I would share a few summertime slimming foods with you. Let’s take a look…

5 Summertime Slimming Foods:

  1. Watermelon—
    watermelon
    Watermelon is not only refreshing, it is high in vitamins, including vitamin A and C. Watermelons are also rich in antioxidants including lypocene, which helps your body fight free radicals. As their name implies, watermelons contain a lot of water which can help detoxify your body and help you to stay hydrated. Watermelons have some other healthful benefits, as well. They are known to help lower blood pressure, help reduce insulin resistance and help with sore muscles. Watermelons are plentiful and easy to grow. Some people grow their own in their gardens, but most people like to grab one from the grocery store or farmers market to take with to a BBQ, family picnic, or enjoy at the lake. Make sure you grab one of your own to indulge in some of the health benefits it provides.
  2. Cucumbers—
    cucumbers
    Cucumbers are another summertime slimming food and are loaded with water. In fact, they are made up of 90% water, yet they also offer some valuable healthful properties. Cucumbers are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the body. Cucumbers contain vitamins, C, K and B5, which helps provide energy for your body. They also contain manganese, which helps build healthy bones, as well as potassium and magnesium, which are good for your heart health. Many people enjoy cucumbers in salads, or like to eat them alone. Gardeners often like to can them to enjoy pickles in the fall and winter months. Cucumbers can also be added to water to help hydrate and detoxify your body. They can also be added to green juice, or smoothies for an added boost of nutrients.
  3. Carrots—
    carrots
    Carrots are not only sweet and crunchy, they are another slimming vegetable that packs some powerful nutrients. Carrots are loaded with vitamin A, which is good for you eye health. They are rich in beta carotene and helps protect you from macular degeneration and cataracts. They also have other health benefits including helping to prevent cancer, especially lung and breast cancer. They also help slow down the aging process and promote healthy skin. Make sure you eat plenty of this vegetable for vitality and both eye and skin health. Who doesn’t want healthy eyes and less wrinkles? Carrots also help detoxify the body and contain fiber that helps with your digestive process. Make sure you snack on plenty of this crunchy vegetable.
  4. Tomatoes—
    tomatoes
    Tomatoes are another slimming food that are bountiful in the summer. Many people grow their own tomato plants in the garden, or have a potted plant for the patio or deck and why not? They are easy to grow, tasty and have many nutritional benefits. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. They also contain vitamin A, E, B6 and K. They are also a good source of potassium and fiber and can help boost your metabolism. Tomatoes are also good for eye sight and skin health. They also help detoxify the body and help reduce inflammation. Tomatoes help reduce cholesterol and improve heart health. Whether you grow your own, or purchase tomatoes at the grocery store, make sure you add this vegetable to your diet for its many healthful properties. Tomatoes can be eaten alone, sliced on salads or sandwiches, or added to pasta. They can also be added to stir fries, rice and more.
  5. Peppers—
    peppers

Peppers are another summertime slimming food that packs a punch when it comes to your health. Peppers contain a host of vitamins and help your immune system. Peppers contain plenty of vitamin C, E and B6. They also contain phytochemcials and antioxidants, which help protect your body. Peppers have a number of health benefits including helping with eye health and anemia. If you have an iron deficiency, make sure you add some peppers to your diet. They contain a decent amount of iron, which can help keep your energy up.  Peppers are low in calories and are great for dipping. You can add them to salads, rice, spaghetti, and more. Peppers come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes and are part of the chili pepper family. Although some peppers are hot, you can find varieties that are medium to mild in flavor. Make sure you add this sweet vegetable to your diet for its many healthful properties.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:
¹Gary. “25 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Watermelon (#11 Is Impressive).” Well-Being Secrets, 24 Jan. 2017, www.well-beingsecrets.com/health-benefits-of-watermelon/.
²“What Are Cucumbers Good For?” Mercola.com, foodfacts.mercola.com/cucumber.html.

³“10 Benefits of Carrots: The Crunchy Powerfood.” 10 Benefits Of Carrots | Care2 Healthy Living, www.care2.com/greenliving/10-benefits-of-carrots.html.

Get Back To The Basics Of Eating With The Weston A. Price Diet…

When it comes to our food consumption habits, it would do us all good to back to the basics of eating. Over the years, we’ve gone astray from eating local farm-fresh produce, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole farmed grains and pasture raised animals on a consistent basis. Today many of our fruits and vegetables are imported and available all year long. Our society has also grown accustomed to processed foods containing additives and preservatives and tend to eat more of them than real, wholesome foods. These foods often contain sugar and processed oils that are not good for your body and are a big part of the obesity epidemic and many health problems. That is why is important to get back to the basics of eating.

fruit and vegetables
fruit and vegetables

In my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, I talk a little about  the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, (IIN) where I studied to become a certified health coach and learned over 100 different dietary theories. While they are all interesting and have value for different people, one theory in particular called the Weston A. Price dietary theory, focuses solely on the importance of getting back to the basics.

Basic foods
Carrots

This dietary theory incorporates a traditional diet based on what our ancestors ate. The organization was founded by Weston Price, DDS, who was a nutrition research pioneer. “Dr. Price’s research demonstrates that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.”¹ The diet focuses on eating whole, unprocessed foods.

Cow
Farm animal

Some foods in the Weston A. Price Diet include the following:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Meat from from pasture-fed animals including beef, lamb, game, and organ meats
  • Pastured Poultry and eggs
  • Wild fish and fish eggs
  • Full-fat milk products
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cod liver oil
  • Traditional oils such as olive oil and sesame oil
  • Fermented fruits and vegetables
  • Home-made stock from bones of pastured animals
  • Traditional sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, etc.

Some other recommendations of this diet include getting plenty of rest and exercise. Practicing forgiveness and having a positive mindset with consistent positive thoughts is also advised.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:

¹”About the Foundation.” The Weston A. Price Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2017.

²”What to Know About the Weston A. Price Diet.” Institute for Integrative Nutrition. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2017.

 

Invest In Some Affordable Health Care…

Affordable health care is something we all want. While many people are counting on the government to help out, it’s not going to happen overnight. It takes time, money, research and a lot of planning to find something that really works and is affordable to many.

In the meantime, why not take matters in your own hands and invest in yourself? We all have choices, when it comes to health and well-being and eating more whole foods is one way to help you stay healthy.

Did you know that over 65% of Americans are over weight and almost half the population has a chronic disease?¹

That is alarming and something we should all be concerned about! People often look for a quick-fix to a growing waistline, or medical problem. The truth is there is no quick-fix. Most people don’t gain a bunch of weight over night, so why would you expect to lose it so dramatically? Weight gain is typically the result of over consumption and eating a poor diet, which often includes eating a lot of processed and fast foods over a period of time. Many processed foods contain added sugar, hydrogenated oils and other preservatives and chemicals that can pack on the pounds. If you continually feed your body these types of foods, health issues can also arise over time.

In my new book, Wholey Cow a Simple Guide To Eating And Living,” which is available on Amazon, I talk a little about this and how a life-style change incorporating better eating habits and staying active is a better solution to dieting. Why not be proactive and choose more foods that provide the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and meat? While you don’t have to eliminate processed foods altogether, you can look for ones that are better for you and have fewer ingredients. You can also try and incorporate some sort of exercise into daily routine. You don’t need to necessarily visit the gym, but it is important to find some sort of activity you enjoy.

I am passionate about helping people take control of how they eat and what they eat. That is why I am happy to say that my book is now available on Kindle for only $2.99! I wanted to offer a promotion to make it affordable for many of you.

Wholey Cow!

I hope you invest in yourself. Here’s the link to Amazon if you want to check it out!

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:

¹“Overweight and Obesity Statistics.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

Mindsets and Milestones…

Happiness, peace, joy, health, love, abundance…we all want these things—right? Why is it then that so many of us have a hard time achieving them, or fall short on some? Many of us commit to making changes in our lives at different times; perhaps at the start of a new year, a time of transition, or when we are fed up with something. While some people may start out strong and committed, over time our commitments are often put by the wayside. But what is it that causes these road blocks to change? The answer unfortunately is often us. We frequently sabotage our own progress.

We are all creatures of habit. While you may want to make changes in your life, often times, your thoughts don’t match up with your true desires and you get stuck in your ways and feel unfulfilled, stagnant, or stressed. This reminds me of something I read about rose bushes.

Typically when you plant rose bushes, you have to break up the root ball before planting them in the ground, so the roots can grow freely, get nourishment and flourish. “We, too, can become root bound, being so tightly packed in a too-small container that we can no longer breathe or receive nourishment.”1

So what holds us back from growing and changing and how do we overcome it? First of all, you need to give yourself room to grow, so you are open to change. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts, you need to focus on what you really want and how to get there. I recently visited with someone who was so stressed out with work that she felt she couldn’t take the time to eat healthy anymore, let alone exercise. We all can get overwhelmed with life from time to time, especially if we focus on too many things. During times of stress however, it is important to eat the right foods, as well as exercise, as whole foods provide nourishment and exercise produces serotonin that can be calming. When we are calmer, we can focus more. It is easy to freak yourself out when you focus your thoughts on an outcome. By changing your mindset however, and breaking things down, it is much easier to achieve your goals and milestones.

An example would be if you are in sales and needed to increase your sales numbers. Many people overwhelm themselves by thinking, “I am never going to reach the new sales goal for the month.” You can tell yourself instead, “I am working towards my new sales goal by making 10 extra calls each day. You can also make a list of people to contact to work towards your goal. If you want to lose weight, you can change your thought that “eating healthy food is expensive, to  I love eating fresh fruit and vegetables.” You can also make yourself a healthy meal plan and make a shopping list.

So what changes do you want to happen in your life and what are you waiting for?

Remember—“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source: ¹ Seale, Alan. Breaking Up Your Root Ball. Entheos – The Optimizer eNews. January 10, 2013.