Very anemic and iron supps make me sick. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I could use some anemia advice...

I have iron deficiency anemia... I think I have probably been anemic since having DS (I lost a lot of blood and my periods,when they came back, were VERY heavy... lots of symptoms... etc.).

Anyway, I went to the doc for something unrelated and they tested my iron and said I'm an "8" and the normal levels are like 12-16 or something.

So, they gave me some iron supplements, aren't sure exactly why it's happening... I'm supposed to be re-tested in 3 weeks.

These iron supplements make me SO sick to my stomach! I try to eat foods that are a good source of iron, and have been doing that for a while... cashews, red meat, peas, that sort of thing. So I don't understand why my levels are so low.

ANYway... just wondering if anyone has any advice for me! Ideas on what could cause it? The doc asked me about several things (blood in stool, etc.) that don't seem to be the source.

Also, can I do anything besides take iron supplements? They really make me sick to my stomach. If they're right after a full meal, I'm USUALLY ok, but I have a really hard time remembering to take them as it is, much less right after a full meal, if that makes sense. I'm kind of scared to even take them because sometimes my stomach gets really upset and it's quite unpleasant.

Any advice for me? I don't understand why I can eat a pretty good amount of iron-rich foods and still be THIS anemic, it seems pretty low to me, like not borderline or anything.

TIA!
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#2 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 07:30 PM
 
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Chlorophyll is wonderful. Liquid works quickly to bring iron levels up and if you don't like the taste (I don't), you can maintain with the capsules. I used it after I hemmorhaged after my fifth baby. I was so weak I had to be carried to the bathroom. I don't know what my hemoglobin was at the time (we had a UC), but it had to be VERY low. Within two weeks it was 10.2 and I was recovering much better than anyone expected. I took the liquid at minimum 3 times a day for a month.

Another option is Floradix. That form of iron is much more absorbable than the kind the doctor gives you.

I used to use both of those with success for my oldest dd, as well. (She had iron deficiency anemia)
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#3 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the post.

Can I ask, what the heck is chlorophyll? I assume I could find that at a health food store, right?

Now, what I don't understand is, why wouldn't my doc tell me about Floradix or chlorophyll? Is there something they don't like about it or something?

THanks again for your post, I'm going to rush out to the health food store in the morning and look for those!! Is there any problem with alternating between one and the other, like if I started taking chlorophyll and found the Floradix more palatable, would it cause any problems to switch?
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#4 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 07:59 PM
 
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Docs don't even know about chlorophyl or chelated iron supplements. They work MUCH better, though. Another good iron supplement is Hemaplex. Hemaplex is pills and Floradix is liquid. They are both excellent, Floradix has more herbs, I just prefer the pills.
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#5 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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They don't KNOW about them? What do they teach in doc school these days????

Thanks for the advice, I am heading out to the store in the morning... I don't think I can stand any more of these freaking iron pills that make me want to ralph!
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#6 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 08:04 PM
 
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Doctors don't know anything but what they've been taught, YK? Nobody's making any money when you buy herbs instead of meds. If it makes you feel better, the Mayo clinic uses chlorophyll in patients that are severely anemic.

Chlorophyll is the "blood" of plants. If money is a concern at all, it's much less expensive than Floradix. I can't imagine there would be any problem switching from one to the other. And if you have a decent health food store they should have both.
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#7 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 08:24 PM
 
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First of all, how do you feel?

Synthetic Iron supplements make you sick? They do that to many people. Besides making them also VERY constipated and giving them heart burn, they do little of anything else.

If you take the synthetic iron supplement and go back in 6 weeks, your blood will look much better but at a cellular level there will be little or no change.


IMO - You have to treat the deficiency differently. In a more natural way. Especially if you are nursing your baby. Because all that synthetic iron is not good for the baby either.

I would suggest to get your menstruation under control. You can't let your body bleed that much every months. That is not normal.

If I were you I would start by using natural sanitary napkins or glad rags. The commercial pads contain chemicals that many women can not tolerate and makes them bleed much more. You can make your own glad rags. There is a thread on it. And if not, buy natural ones in the health food store. Generally that will cut the menstruation in half.

Some foods block the absorption of iron - coffee, black tea, milk is a big culprit ...
I would cut out all dairy for a few months and then see if it makes a difference.

Quote:
The May, 1995 issue of the Townsend Medical Letter reported
that cow's milk causes hemoglobin loss.

In 1990, the Journal of Pediatrics (Vol. 116) reported:

"Cow's milk can cause blood loss from the intestinal tract,
which over time, reduces the body's iron stores. Blood loss
may be a reaction to cow's milk proteins."

Eight years earlier, Pediatrics (1982; 89 ) reported:

"Babies who are fed whole cow's milk during the second six
months of life may experience a 30% increase in intestinal
blood loss and a significant loss of iron in their stools."
Most iron in food is lost due to processing. So the key is to eat unprocessed food. IOW, make your own meals. Don't buy ready made. Don't buy refined and then fortified. The natural mineral are removed and they are replaced by synthetic minerals which the body can not use at the cellular level.


I would also take cod liver oil.
Quote:
Vitamin A deficiency may exacerbate iron deficiency anemia. Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to have beneficial effects on iron deficiency anemia and improve iron status among children and pregnant women.

Vegetarian foods that are high in available iron -
Quote:
Sea vegetables like kelp, chlorella...
Dried fruits like apricots, prunes and raisins
Nuts
Beans, especially lima beans
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli
Black-strap molasses
Whole grains

Quote:
Taking vitamin C pills or eating foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or juice, at the same time you eat iron-rich foods can help your body absorb the iron better.
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#8 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 09:52 PM
 
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Nobody's making any money when you buy herbs instead of meds.
Except the sellers of the herbs and herbal products. Who's making money isn't the issue. Effectiveness is.

And you've gotten some good suggestions here.

How do you feel about liver? It's full of iron as well as Vitamin A. When I was a kid I read an article about how doctors finally figured out what was going on with an illness called Pernicious Anemia. One of the effective treatments was to eat liver.

I hope your doc did more than just ask you questions about blood in stool. There's a noninvasive test for that, since occult bleeding is just that: hidden, and you wouldn't know about it because you cannot see it.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#9 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 10:16 PM
 
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FWIW regular iron pills make me miserable but Floradix works without a hitch for me. And it brought my hgb up really quickly.

Do you like tahini and sesame seeds? There's tons of iron in sesame seeds, considering how small they are especially. And you can put them in *everything*. Tahini is in hummus, baba ganoush, halva...mm, halva! And you can make sesame seed snacks or put them in salads. Enjoy with a vitamin c source and it's a great way to get iron.

And *don't* take your floradix or eat your iron-rich food with dairy or with a calcium supplement. Calcium slows/blocks the absorption of iron.
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#10 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 10:53 PM
 
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Try floradix or floravital (the gluten free version). It is great IMO. It's better absorbed than regluar iron pills.

Do you eat red meat?

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#11 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 11:08 PM
 
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nettle tea is also very high in iron. you can buy the herb in bulk and brew it (a small handful) in a quart mason jar, refrigerate it if you like things cold, and sip it throughout the day. you can add sweetener if it's too bitter. there also might be premade teabags, like from traditional medicinals. they might have names having to do with "woman's health," or "fortifying," or some such. just check the ingredients for nettle leaf as the main ingredient.

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#12 of 22 Old 01-27-2007, 11:35 PM
 
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Except the sellers of the herbs and herbal products. Who's making money isn't the issue. Effectiveness is.
.
OK, true. However, my point really was that nobody the doctor would be concerned with is making any money. Ie: pharmaceutical companies. And I didn't just throw that out there. The OP asked a question, which I answered.
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#13 of 22 Old 01-28-2007, 12:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope your doc did more than just ask you questions about blood in stool. There's a noninvasive test for that, since occult bleeding is just that: hidden, and you wouldn't know about it because you cannot see it.
She asked me a couple of questions... actually it was the Physician's Assistant, not the actual doc. I wanted to get in quickly because my heart felt like it was skipping beats sometimes. She had them do a very brief EKG and told me not to worry about it, but I also mentioned I was probably anemic and that's why she took the blood sample.

She was talking about giving me a... what's the word? Where they check for hemhorrhoids. I already have hemhorrhoids (sp) and told her they hadn't acted up for a really long time, and she seemed satisfied with that.

So, even though she said that we needed to find out the cause, she doesn't seem all that interested in it... I imagine if I go back in 3 weeks and my iron is up they probably won't do anything else.

I'm planning on switching docs, so may I should talk to the new doc about it. I haven't done that yet because I'm on probation at work (since I'm new) and so I'm trying not to take a lot of time off... I just went in this time since I was alarmed.

I was relieved to hear that anemia can cause rapid heartbeat because I seem to have that happen some times. I wonder if it could cause the weird heart skipping a beat feeling I have sometimes too... just thinking out loud though.
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#14 of 22 Old 01-28-2007, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by barefoot mama View Post
OK, true. However, my point really was that nobody the doctor would be concerned with is making any money. Ie: pharmaceutical companies. And I didn't just throw that out there. The OP asked a question, which I answered.
I guess part of the problem is exposure too... pharmaceutical reps are in there all day promoting their products, and I don't imagine most of the herbal remedy people are doing that.

It just seems so strange that a medical doctor would not be aware of the options... although considering some of my experiences with them, I don't know why that would surprise me.
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#15 of 22 Old 01-28-2007, 12:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by KristiMetz View Post
I was relieved to hear that anemia can cause rapid heartbeat because I seem to have that happen some times. I wonder if it could cause the weird heart skipping a beat feeling I have sometimes too... .
Do you know that actually a lot of people have that. I've had it since I was 23 yrs old. Or that was the first time I noticed it.

I used to get it before I started my period, when I got a cold, when I was nervous, when I got upset, when I didn't get enough sleep, when I was too hungry ..... pretty much any time my body was not just in a perfect state.

I had several doctors check me. One prescribed Valium - years ago. I took them two days.

I took several other meds for it. But over the years, I found out that there was really nothing that would make a difference for a long time and so I quit everything and did nothing. I works just as well.

I still have the quick, rapid heart beats from time to time, or the skipping, or the feeling of my chest filling up to my throat... then it's suddenly gone.

Now I found out over the years, if you just go with it and don't worry about it, it is a lot easier to deal with. You don't get frightened.

BTW, my grandmother had it all her life. She lived to be 94. And my son who is very fit and very athletic has it, too. We just don't worry any longer about it.

HTH.
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#16 of 22 Old 01-28-2007, 06:39 AM
 
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so on my way home from work i did my usual saturday routine and stopped at the giant health food store in SF, rainbow grocery, and looked at the herbal teas they had for "women." in reading the box of one with raspberry leaf tea ("women's toner"), i remembered that it is very good for the uterus, esp. for pregnancy and postpartum, it strengthens the muscle tone for good effective contractions (worked on me: i drank 2 quarts/day because it tasted better than water when i was pregnant, and dd2 shot out like a cork UC, no "pushing," before the midwives got here! but, i digress), and helps shrink the uterus down fast postpartum, lessening blood loss. if it helped the muscular tone of your uterus, you might have less heavy periods. tastes good, too, sort of like oolong tea, slightly astringent. best hot or fridge cold, room temp tastes a little soapy. good for calcium, very absorbable form.

maybe try nettle tea in the morning, raspberry leaf in the afternoon, so you don't get the calcium-iron interfering with each other thing.

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#17 of 22 Old 01-28-2007, 11:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by formerluddite View Post
nettle tea is also very high in iron. you can buy the herb in bulk and brew it (a small handful) in a quart mason jar, refrigerate it if you like things cold, and sip it throughout the day. you can add sweetener if it's too bitter. there also might be premade teabags, like from traditional medicinals. they might have names having to do with "woman's health," or "fortifying," or some such. just check the ingredients for nettle leaf as the main ingredient.
I second this...nettle is wonderfully high in iron. just make sure to steep it, covered, for at least two hours before drinking it to get all of the good medicinal qualities.

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#18 of 22 Old 01-28-2007, 01:27 PM
 
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There is some off information about iron in foods. Many foods that contain iron (including nuts, beans, some greens like spinach, egg, and even prunes!) also contain substances that block iron absorption. Some are worse that others. Grains can be helped with the addition of vitamin C and also soaking. Nuts do not respond as favorably with vitmain C nor do eggs. I've seen pubmed research on nuts, grains, prunes, and eggs in relation to blocking iron. The grain does the least damage especially when combined with vitamin C. I would cut out the cashews for sure and I'm unsure of the peas. Also cut all the usual blocking culprits--tea, milk, etc. at the times you are taking supplements or eating iron rich foods. The red meat is the best source. Could you stand some liver? I want to say blackstrap molasses too but I've not researched that as my son can't have it anyway. Always take about 50 mg. of vitmain C with meals (sodium ascorbate) to help absorb iron--this is particularly important with grains. I'd do it with the supplement too.
Iron is best absorbed in small quantities spread out over the day. Your body can only absorb about 2 mg. at a time so the excess causes problems. I would spread it out in 4 doses of 2 mg. each or something similar. I've used floradix. I also like ferrous bis-glycinate--it is gentle and I've used the solgar brand with my son. I saw a neat study on bis-glycinate and pregnant women--the ones who took only 15 mg. of bis-glycinate had at least as good a response as those who took much, much higher doses of the typical iron supplements (the same ones which cause stomach problems).
I agree with the pp about keeping the teas apart from the iron but think they might be a good idea otherwise!

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#19 of 22 Old 01-28-2007, 04:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Gitti View Post
Do you know that actually a lot of people have that. I've had it since I was 23 yrs old. Or that was the first time I noticed it.

I used to get it before I started my period, when I got a cold, when I was nervous, when I got upset, when I didn't get enough sleep, when I was too hungry ..... pretty much any time my body was not just in a perfect state.

I had several doctors check me. One prescribed Valium - years ago. I took them two days.

I took several other meds for it. But over the years, I found out that there was really nothing that would make a difference for a long time and so I quit everything and did nothing. I works just as well.

I still have the quick, rapid heart beats from time to time, or the skipping, or the feeling of my chest filling up to my throat... then it's suddenly gone.

Now I found out over the years, if you just go with it and don't worry about it, it is a lot easier to deal with. You don't get frightened.

BTW, my grandmother had it all her life. She lived to be 94. And my son who is very fit and very athletic has it, too. We just don't worry any longer about it.

HTH.

I had that last pregnancy. It was soo scrary. My heartbeat was totally out of sync, too fast, too slow, one side seemed to be ofbeat... I thought I was having a heart attack which caused me to have a panic attack. Nice huh.

Well, my midwife said that I must be anemic since the above mentioned heart palpitations are a sign of anemia. Sure enough, my iron levels were really low.

Floradix has done wonders for me. It is easily digested (and I'm someone who cannot digest alot of kinds of pills/vitamins) When you iron is really low, you need to eat iron rich food and a supplement (just the food is not enough). Do not take dairy products 2hours before or after taking iron, calcium prevents iron absorbsion.

I hope you get your iron up.
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#20 of 22 Old 01-29-2007, 12:15 AM
 
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I was relieved to hear that anemia can cause rapid heartbeat because I seem to have that happen some times. I wonder if it could cause the weird heart skipping a beat feeling I have sometimes too... just thinking out loud though.
Yes. Heart palpitations are a sign of fairly severe anemia.

I don't absorb iron via my gut and have very heavy menses, so I go in for IV iron infusions.

You've had a lot of good advice in this thread, so definitely try some of the things. Diet can make a huge difference if you have a healthy gut. I know a lot of people who love nettle tea and Floradix, though I have no experience with them.

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#21 of 22 Old 01-29-2007, 12:04 PM
 
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Cook everything in a cast iron skillet.
You won't have any more problems. Seriously.
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#22 of 22 Old 01-29-2007, 01:20 PM
 
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Along the lines of sbgrace's comments, read my free e-book on iron. I outline food iron issues -- what's high in iron, how to increase its availability, etc. Go to my subscribe page and scroll down to the food iron ebook.

Amanda Rose, author, Rebuild From Depression: A Nutrient Guide. Don't miss this opportunity to build a business telling friends about probiotic foods and grass fed meats: Beyond Organic Review.

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