(Health Secrets Newsletter) Low level anemia may behind your disease! The truth about iron is that optimal levels are essential for good health and freedom from cancer. Yet there seems to be a campaign to scare us away from achieving those levels. It’s true that a very small percentage of the population has a genetic disposition to iron overload, known as hemochromatosis. These people need to monitor their iron intake carefully. But for many of us, getting enough iron is the problem, and low level anemia is the result. Unless you are a regular red meat eater, you may have low level anemia and not enough iron to keep disease away.
Are feeling run down, tired, lethargic, dizzy, weak, depressed, unmotivated, or low in energy? Each of these is a sign you may be low on iron. This is particularly true for women, since we do not traditionally choose foods that are naturally high in iron. Although the official statistics say only one woman in five of reproductive age is short on iron, many more have a low level or sub-clinical anemia that impacts their daily life and health. This group includes the reproductive as well as older women.
Earl Mindell, creator of the popular book Vitamin Bible notes, “Only about 8 percent of your total iron intake is absorbed and actually enters your bloodstream.” Considering the low levels of iron in most foods, it is easy to understand how many women and even some men have low level anemia.
Why is it important to get enough iron and avoid low level anemia? Iron is required for several key functions in the body including:
- Oxygen transport in the blood and muscles — cancer thrives in a low oxygen environment
- Releasing of energy from cells — low level anemia makes your feel exhausted
- Red blood cell production — optimal levels of hemoglobin are needed to carry oxygen to all cells and keep cancer away
- Immune system health — a fully functioning immune system is necessary to keep the body cancer free
Do you feel short of breath? Low level anemia from inadequate iron intake impairs aerobic metabolism by decreasing the delivery of oxygen to tissues and reducing the capacity of muscles to use oxygen for the production of energy. When low level anemia is present, the brain is not fully oxygenated, leading to fatigue, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, reduced attention span, poor work performance, apathy and irritability. But the most critical outcome of low iron is cancer. When there is not enough iron to effectively transport adequate oxygen to all cells in the body, cancer is easily initiated and promoted. Cancer cells thrive in anaerobic conditions. The return of optimal oxygen levels stops cancer and restores cellular integrity. Anyone who has or has had cancer should be sure iron levels are in the optimal range.
The body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that enables it to carry oxygen. If you have low level anemia and your cells do not have adequate hemoglobin, you may experience symptoms such as cold hands, brittle nails, restless legs and pale skin. Adequate iron is needed for metabolizing essential B vitamins. Low level anemia makes blood tired, a condition that weakens the immune system and makes you more susceptible to colds and flu as well as cancer.
We are unable to manufacture iron, so to avoid low level anemia we must get enough iron from our diets, but all iron is not created equal. Animal foods contain heme iron that comes from their hemoglobin. This iron is most readily absorbed by the human body, making red meat and poultry the best sources of iron. But even here, there is not much iron. Iron content in a four ounce serving of these meats is only:
Beef — 11.33 percent of daily value
Chicken — 6.56 percent of daily value
Salmon — 3.44 percent of daily value
The absorption of non-heme iron is much lower. This is the form of iron found in plant sourced foods, such as vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. The absorption of non-heme iron can be improved by the addition of a heme-iron food during the same meal. Including vitamin C with the meal will also aid absorption of both heme and non-heme iron. There are substances that inhibit the absorption of iron, including coffee, tea, and bran.
So you see that consumption of the traditional male diet based on large servings of meat is probably the reason why men generally have adequate iron levels. And you can see that the traditional female diet can easily leave them with low level anemia. The recommended daily amount of iron for adult females is 18 milligrams per day. If you are a female and have any of the symptoms of low iron, try calculating your iron intake on a typical day. This is easy to do because the amount of iron in almost every food product is listed on the label toward the bottom. You will probably be quite surprised at the low level of iron you are taking in!
If you work out, your need for iron increases. Endurance athletes, particularly runners, are believed to have the highest requirements due to loss of iron from exertion. Some studies recommend iron intakes of 23 mg/day for female distance runners. Iron is lost in the sweat, and through gastrointestinal bleeding that commonly occurs during strenuous exercise. The use of anti-inflammatory drugs can cause iron loss.
Anyone doing bioidentical hormone replacement will have a greater need for iron because hormone replacement increases the red blood cell count just as exercise does. Iron is used in the creation of these extra red cells causing the need for additional iron to replenish iron stores and avoid low level anemia.
It is important to remember that lab tests identify only severe cases of iron deficiency. When your iron deficiency is severe enough, your doctor will get a report saying you have full blown anemia. But before that happens, you may experience months or years of low level anemia that does not show up on a lab test, but leaves you feeling sub-par and not knowing why. During that time you may attribute symptoms of weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and impaired aerobic capacity to just being overworked, stressed or run down.
If you take a food based iron supplement such as blackstrap molasses and increase iron intake in your diet, and you find that your symptoms have lessened and you are feeling more alert, energetic, happy, and have less shortness of breath, you will know that you had low level anemia.
When the body’s iron stores have been depleted, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or a year for them to be replenished to optimal levels, depending on the severity of the deficiency and your ability to absorb iron. It is very difficult to recover from iron deficiency without taking an iron supplement. Once you feel as though your have regained your old self, the person you were before you developed low level anemia, supplementation should be decreased. A diet rich in iron is needed to prevent a recurrence of iron depletion. There are many websites that can help you choose foods high in iron.
Iron stores must be replenished slowly. Exceeding the recommended supplement amount to try for a quick fix is never a good idea. Be sure to keep iron and other supplements out of reach of children.
For more information:
Published with permission from Alignlife. Original article link is here.