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How to get enough iron?

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  • How to get enough iron?

    Hi All,

    I've been full-on Primal for a month now. Still tweaking, but feeling great. Going 100% makes all the difference.

    I started out with an iron deficiency two months ago, and I just did a blood test and still have a deficiency, despite eating beef liver, egg yolks, and what seems like a hundred cups of spinach. I have some malabsorption issues that are probably at play, but I'm not even eating enough iron to start with: according to fitday I've averaged only 75% RDA (18mg) for the month.

    So now I'm on an iron supplement for three months to get it back where it needs to be.

    How is it possible for an adult *woman* to eat enough iron through food? Any tricks or tips?

  • #2
    I'd try and slip in some liverwurst spread into every meal. Though, you seem to be mentioning many iron-rich foods. Given your absorption issues, the supplement will be needed indefinitely at any rate.

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    • #3
      Fortunately, I live in the land of liverwurst!

      Comment


      • #4
        Don't drink coffee or tea with a meal or soon after a meal, as they contain substances that chelate iron and block it's absorption.

        Do consume foods rich in vitamin C with every meal if possible, as vitamin C improves absorption.

        Spinach isn't the great source of iron it's made out to be - it contains high levels of oxalate which can block absorption of iron.

        Heme iron from animal products is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources.
        F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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        • #5
          Thanks, paleo-bunny. I understand that the vegetable sources of iron aren't nearly as well absorbed, but I thought I would try to cover all the bases. But I think you've hit on the two big problems that got me to this point:

          (1) I only drink tea (plus coffee 2-3x/week), and I had been drinking way too much of it for a couple of years, something like two liters of black or green tea per day. I've now been trying to cut it down by half because I think I've been putting too much stress on the kidneys by drinking so much.

          (2) I had stopped eating fruit last year because of fructose malabsorption, so I was probably lower on vitamin C until this last month, when I added fructose-friendly fruits and more vegetables to my diet because I was feeling better.

          Amazing what a couple of seemingly innocuous diet habits can do to change your whole system!

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          • #6
            Clams.
            Clams are the mecca of heme iron. Seriously.
            Top 10 Foods Highest in Iron

            I had low iron issues on and off for years... so I had to learn how to eat it.
            A red Manhattan style chowder will get you fixed up and is delish!
            Also... tops for non-heme iron is cocoa powder. How fun is that!
            “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
            ~Friedrich Nietzsche
            And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

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            • #7
              I have malabsorption issues as well, and the best absorbed form of iron is heme iron. I can't seem to get enough iron in my diet either, even with eating chicken livers, liver pudding, spinach, and lots of red meat. There are only two supplements that I know of that contain heme iron--you can get Bifera at most drugstores, it's half plant and half (6mg) heme iron. You can also order ProFerrin online, it's 12mg of just heme iron. Both are pretty pricey (~$20 for a 30 day supply), but ProFerrin has twice as much heme iron for the price. I need to order more, it was the only thing that got me out of a low slump (my ferritin was 10). I am showing symptoms of deficiency again (seeing sparkles in the shower, bruising easily, fatigue, etc.) even though I normally take Bifera every day alongside a vitamin C tablet. (I am also not a huge fruit eater, I seem to have an issue with fructose as well) Hope that helps!

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              • #8
                Thanks cori! Sounds like you got your iron issues under control? Very good!

                I'm not a fan of seafood after a formative bad childhood experience, but I am really trying to get over that. I will look into the clams option for sure. After all, with enough butter, anything is possible.

                As for cocoa powder, not sure how well that will go down, since chocolate is a bit rough on me, but maybe it will be fine when isolated from the other ingredients, so I'll give it a try. Would be great for smoothies, in any case.

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                • #9
                  meeshar,

                  Sorry to hear you've had some iron issues, too. Bruising and fatigue sound familiar, but what are these shower sparkles?

                  I'm not sure what kind of iron mine is, but the ingredients say

                  Eisen (II) glycin sulfat Komplex 567.7mg
                  = Eisen (II) Ion 100mg

                  I may ask the pharmacist for more info. Fortunately my health insurance here reimburses me, so it's all good.

                  Sorry to hear you have a fructose problem, too. It's tempting to cut them all out, but I'm realizing that I do feel better when I make an effort to eat some citrus, kiwi, bananas, and berries.

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                  • #10
                    No probs, gumboots. I'm apparently not iron-deficient even though I'm a pescatarian, but it's clearly something I have to watch for. I'm a bit naughty drinking tea with breakfast but I make it quite weak.

                    Thanks for the link cori! I didn't know that clams are so high in iron. I love chowder - gonna start making my favourite version again and try it with clams.

                    I also eat a lot of cocoa powder (mixed with natural goat's yoghurt), and serious quantities of fresh parsley and cilantro. Plus 2-3 eggs a day.
                    Last edited by paleo-bunny; 05-01-2012, 08:44 AM. Reason: ETA
                    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Beef heart is what finally got me to 100% (and sometimes over) on Fitday. Because it doesn't have the vitamin A mega-dose that liver has, I can eat a lot of it. I usually eat about 3-6 oz a day through beef heart jerky (we make it in the dehydrator), beef heart cooked like a steak, and beef heart in my soup. It's delicious, cheep, and gives me my iron.

                      We buy the beef heart from a local farmer that doesn't have a use for it when he butchers (and sells) his cows. So, we get grass-fed beef heart at $2.50/pound. It is my new best friend!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Aldergirl View Post
                        Beef heart is what finally got me to 100% (and sometimes over) on Fitday. Because it doesn't have the vitamin A mega-dose that liver has, I can eat a lot of it. I usually eat about 3-6 oz a day through beef heart jerky (we make it in the dehydrator), beef heart cooked like a steak, and beef heart in my soup. It's delicious, cheep, and gives me my iron.

                        We buy the beef heart from a local farmer that doesn't have a use for it when he butchers (and sells) his cows. So, we get grass-fed beef heart at $2.50/pound. It is my new best friend!
                        I eat a lot of beef heart as well, LOVE beef heart for breakfast with a easy egg for "sauce"...
                        And eat a moderate amount of chicken livers to avoid over doing the A.

                        I actually love that I "need" to eat the clams though. Especially fresh!
                        “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
                        ~Friedrich Nietzsche
                        And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Lol, I probably should have explained--I think the medical term is photopsia, basically when I lift my arms above my head (particularly in the shower) or stand up really fast, I see flashes of light. This seems to only happen to me when I'm anemic, so I group it with that.

                          I did a little googling and it seems that the type of iron used in that is Ferrous Sulfate. It's a common prescription iron, but unfortunately more known for constipation than for absorption. :/ Another form to look for in addition to heme iron is Ferronyl or carbonyl iron. I'm not sure if it's a common drugstore brand in Germany, but here it can be found as Feosol. It's not as awesome as heme, but still much better absorbed than Ferrous Sulfate.

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                          • #14
                            The Ferrous Sulfate pills have another lovely, and very common, side effect... nausea. Vomiting yay! NOT!
                            Gimme teh foods.
                            “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
                            ~Friedrich Nietzsche
                            And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by meeshar View Post
                              Lol, I probably should have explained--I think the medical term is photopsia, basically when I lift my arms above my head (particularly in the shower) or stand up really fast, I see flashes of light. This seems to only happen to me when I'm anemic, so I group it with that.
                              Oh that's what that's called. The sparkles...the eye migraines...this all is starting to make sense.

                              Originally posted by meeshar View Post
                              It's a common prescription iron, but unfortunately more known for constipation than for absorption. :/
                              Yes. I was starting to wonder what was up, since I finally felt like I was completing some excellent 'primal movements' after the transition a month ago, then suddenly...nothing.

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