The Iron Deficiency Myth. The real reasons behind your dwindling energy levels.
I’m going to throw a few curve balls today I reckon. You see, most people (women especially) have been trying to go about improving their energy by taking iron for decades, yet many feel either worse, or no different.
Why? I hear you say?
Because whilst blood tests are handy to find frank deficiencies, there’s often a myriad of other factors of why a human could be deficient in iron.
Let me make this clear. Iron is one of THE hardest deficiencies to correct for this reason.
What are the other underlying factors?
The most obvious is bleeding. Think menstrual, rectal, (haemorrhoids) or from other places in the body such as the digestive system (inflammatory bowel disease). Sometimes this is obvious – if a woman is using excessive amounts of tampons /pads / needing to empty her menstrual cup hourly or more frequently. This is considered heavy flow and may lower your iron levels.
Diet – those who are vegan/vegetarian don’t consume heme-iron (most easily absorbed form). So it’s partly a consuming of less iron, and also the non-heme iron is less absorbable so that plays a role too. But it doesn’t automatically qualify someone for iron deficiency. I’ve met some vegans with better iron levels than I have! So again, it comes back to digestive absorbability with this mineral.
Ok so these tops two reasons are where most people stop their search for better levels and keep trying to boost their levels (often unsuccessfully).
Here’s a couple more factors I always consider and thoroughly have tested to ensure we treat the CAUSE of why someone is iron deficient.
Parasites – such as Blastocystis hominis and Dientamoeba fragilis as well as certain bacterial & fungal pathogens, even pin worms can thrive on iron. I.e. if you have any/all (yes that does happen sometimes) then the iron you are taking either in dietary or supplemental form can be feeding these little critters, making them stronger, and you weaker/more deficient!
Before you move away from the screen squirming and scratching (lol #sorrynotsorry) it’s NOT just a matter of taking a dose of antibiotics or combantrim and ‘you’ll be fine’.
Parasites thrive in a certain gut environment. So it’s important to change the environment of the gut so they not only die and move on outta there, but also prevent any reoccurrence of infection. This happens not just in the one person, but it goes through entire families. It’s so important to note- anyone who has been in close contact with the infected person, also take the antimicrobial herbs, anti inflammatory gut powder, and probiotics as directed by their Naturopath. You may not be symptomatic, but you may still have an underlying infection that is stealing your nutrients!
Viruses – such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) have been linked to iron deficiency, extreme fatigue and chronic immune issues. Even if you have the test for these and you don’t have an ‘active’ infection, these viruses stay in your system waiting for the opportunity to pounce. This is common at times of high stress whether it be physical, emotional or mental. Hormone involvement can influence the viral load in some women as the immune system lowers at parts of the menstrual cycle. I’ve had so many women visit my clinic who have tested positive to these viruses.
Take note here…If you have a history of these viruses, and you take high doses of iron, you’ll likely feel worse for it. Often women will get the flu or worse, when they begin iron supplements and these viruses are the reason why.
How do you know if you have these viruses? A simple blood test!
Is there treatment available? Yes. Naturally supporting the body with clean diet, appropriate exercise, stress reduction, anti viral herbs and nutrients is the first port of call. It’s best to speak to a Naturopath who is experienced in treating viruses so you feel better faster.
In my experience in clinic, if I see low iron in my clients, I always go searching for the underlying reasons. Once we treat the underlying factors that are ‘stealing’ the iron, the body can then restore the mineral balance once again.
If you would like to make an appointment to speak to me about your options, particularly your dwindling iron levels, contact me here.
This article is not by any means exhaustive. It is based on my clinical experience and client results. It is not intended to replace medical advice, to diagnose or treat any conditions. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional before taking supplements of radically changing your diet/lifestyle.