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I don't get it

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  • I don't get it

    Hi all,

    I have been lurking rather than posting for a while, as full time work and graduate school keep me busy. But today I need your collective brains to help me figure out what is wrong. I tried to donate blood today, and my iron was too low.

    I have been about 90% primal for the last 3 weeks, and probably 80% for several months before that. The past two weeks I have geen on an elimination diet, so no eggs or dairy or grains of any sort. I'm allergic to nuts and seafood, so they are not a part of my diet.

    I have been eating grass fed beef, no-filler pork sauages made right in the store, bacon, and some chicken. I have been eating 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil per day and taking a multi-vit and probiotics. Since cuting out yogurt and kefir, I've been eating saurkraut every other day. I usually do a salad just about every day. I do have dark chocolate most days.

    Yesterday I had steak and broccoli for dinner, bunless burger at lunch, and coconut/rasberry smoothie for breakfast. The day before homemade chicken and veg soup, salad, primal chili, minimally processed pastrami, and pork sauage with pepper and onion. Monday was pretty much a mirror image of Tuesday.

    I am not menstrating.

    Any clues why my iron is low?
    Food should be fun--Thomas Keller

  • #2
    I don't think what you've been eating in the past 2 weeks strongly impacts iron levels. It's more of a long-term thing. You've either chronically not eaten enough iron, the iron you have eaten is not well absorbed, or you're bleeding somewhere. It would be easier to guess which if you go get a full blood test (I assume the blood donor place just did a quickie test?)

    One simple one: Did you eat a lot of dairy with meals, prior to eliminating it? The calcium in dairy can prevent absorption of iron.

    I was diagnosed with microcytic anemia about 6 weeks ago, almost certainly due to heavy periods (which doesn't apply to you, I know). I'm no longer anemic as of this week, just through cooking on cast iron and using just a small amount of Floradix to supplement. My ferritin is still a little low, so I'll keep supplementing for a while longer.

    Zone diet on and off for several years....worked, but too much focus on exact meal composition
    Primal since July 2010...skinniest I've ever been and the least stressed about food


    • #3
      I battle chronic anemia and I'll second Liz's recomendation for Floradix. It is amazing stuff. It doesn't taste bad and it doesn't constipate me like most/all other iron supplements do. I buy it at the local organic shop or you can order it online.

      I too don't menstrate (early menopause) and I have been pushing back on my doctor's wishes to do a full endoscopy to determine cause of internal bleeding. I believe it's from abuse of Aleve (first marathon training) and I believe I'm healing and my counts are slowly improving. I have long suffered with gastric problems and should have known better than to take Aleve.

      Have you been using NSAIDs? They can cause gastrointestinal irritation.



      • #4
        You must had adequate levels of vitamin C to absorb iron. I too am a chronic anemia chick--and have been off and on for the last 15 years. I have noticed that my C consumption is extremely low on PB, and so I need to get back on supplements. Kewi fruits are a great C booster, and thanks for the reminder, I am going to pick some up today! (Stawberries are another!)
        Started PB Aug 9, 2010 then let 'stuff' get in the way
        Back to start and make a fantastic 2012
        Goal of Significant Weight Loss
        15 pounds down! with more to go!


        • #5
          I should clarify, I do still menstrate, but I am not on my period.

          I have been borderline on iron before, but I used to eat very little protein. I had hoped that the increased consumption of meat would take care of that problem. In the recent past I did eat yogurt and cheese most days.

          I decided to try the elimination diet when I realized my stomach was feeling inflammed, like it does for several days if I accidentally eat nuts. I thought perhaps I was developing a new allergy. November 2008-March 2009 I had just about every test done on my GI system that you can think of until finally they decided to test for food allergies. I blame the allergies on Cipro destroying my gut flora, but that's another story.

          I pop an Advil a few times a month--maybe.
          Food should be fun--Thomas Keller


          • #6
            I'm still going with gastrointestinal irritation causing bleeding unless your period has been heavier than normal lately. Meat helps but organ meats help more. I would still recommend a month or so of Floradix or other iron supplement.


            • #7
              Oh - I forgot to ask how you're feeling? Tired? Sleeping a lot?


              • #8
                Originally posted by MJinLV View Post
                Hi all,

                Any clues why my iron is low?
                Please eat some liver each week. Chicken liver or beef liver with LOTS of fried onions. MMMM MMMM Good !
                This will boost your iron levels.

                Best to you,


                • #9
                  You know, I haven't had liver since Grandma made us "liver balls" when I was a kid. Gotta say I was not a fan. But I'm more adventurous now, so maybe it is time to give it a try.

                  I've been tired, but that doesn't seem surprising with 40 hour work weeks, plus a full grad school load.
                  Food should be fun--Thomas Keller


                  • #10
                    Hey MJ! I've got low iron (ferritin) too.... I thought I was getting enough iron because I eat so much more meat now than I did prior PB. But! What I ate before PB was a metric shit ton of fortified grains. So that's where I was getting my iron.

                    I've been supp'ing Hemaplex daily, and eating red meat once a day. I am feeling markedly better.
                    Because if you didn't know, of that is life made: only of moments; Don't lose the now.


                    • #11
                      Hi say_rahhh, glad to see you are still around! Yes, I ate grains 4-6 times a day before July, so I am probably in the same boat.

                      Thanks to everyone for responding. I think I'll try an iron supplement for a few weeks and see if that helps. And I will try to work myself up to some liver (small internal shudder).
                      Food should be fun--Thomas Keller


                      • #12
                        Here's my two cents.
                        My sister and I were close in age and always ate the same foods. She was born anemic, and has never managed to donate blood, as she continues anemic to this day. I've never been.
                        Sometimes, there doesn't need to be bleeding or whatever. Sometimes, it's just the person who has really high difficulty absorbing iron.
                        I'm not suggesting it's healthy, nor that you shouldn't supplement, just that there might not be something sinisterly wrong here.