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  1. #1
    spakesneaker's Avatar
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    iron deficiency

    to give you some background - 22/female/diagnosed with PCOS&insulin resistance when I was 19. Since then, I have broken a lot of my unhealthy habits and have my hormones under control -- recent blood test results show normal testosterone levels. BUT, my hair loss is still a problem--it's not falling out so much now that I have started using henna regularly and stopped doing protein treatments (what a mistake!), but it is still very thin on top. I finally found a doctor (a dermatologist) who tested ferritin levels instead of telling me that my hair loss was just because of stress. And he found very low iron stores - my ferritin level is 9, when it should be at least 40 for regrowth.

    This doctor prescribed ferrex 150+, which would be 150mg of iron daily for the first week and then two a day for 300mg daily after that -- but it isn't covered by my insurance, and costs more than I am willing to pay for it in the future again. Does anyone have any recommendations of an iron supplement to take that would be cheaper and just as effective at bringing iron stores up quickly? I'm guessing that one advantage of getting the prescription supplement from the pharmacy would be that I can trust that it actually contains what it's supposed to, as opposed to otc supplements.

    I do eat red meat--beef and lamb--but I guess not enough! I'm guessing I've always had an iron deficiency, since I've always had heavy periods and never ate beef growing up. I know that a lot of people have an anti-supplement stance because they feel that we should be getting our nutrition from food. I wish I weren't taking so many supplements, but right now I care more about regrowing my hair quickly, and would find it difficult to consume enough iron to do that through meat every day. I wonder, though, whether there's something going on that's hindering iron absorption from food? Does anyone have any experience with this? Could it be a gluten/leaky gut thing?

    As a side note -- yesterday I was visiting a friend who has almost waist-length curly hair, and I witnessed her treating it in the most horrific way. She was pulling on it with a flat iron, and using one of those plastic brushes with the little nubs on the end to brush her hair, also pulling at it as she did so. I don't know if any of the ladies here will be able to relate, but after trying to incorporate more gentle, natural hair care after having hair issues, it's so sad to see seemingly healthy young women treating their hair (and bodies in general) in the most unhealthy ways.

  2. #2
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    elorajade is offline Senior Member
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    I will take a Floravital Liquid supplement when I feel run down. I've been prone to being anemic my entire life, so I need to watch myself really closely. I usually go by how the insides of my eyelids look - just pull down, if it looks like chicken flesh, youre anemic, if its nice an red and veiny, you're good.

    Many women just need to supplement during their periods. Also, I've read that many women just cannot absorb enough iron from their diet, regardless of how much damn spinach you eat!

    What also helps is making sure I take a LOT of b12, I need to take at least 5K, sublingual tabs per day, B12 is very important in the whole process. I made the mistake of buying a tablet brand which was half the dose (didn't notice it!) and within a few weeks I felt it badly, it took me another week or so to build the stores back up.

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    Liver is a good source of iron (and also delicious). When I was iron deficient, (my ferritin was 12 I think) my doctor prescribed ferrous sulfate. Apparently it can cause constipation in some, but I tolerated it pretty well and it got my iron back up in to the normal range. It's very affordable though.

    I'm not sure about the absorption part. I guess you could get a stool test to see if you're passing the iron out in high levels, maybe. I'm not even sure if that's a standard offered test. Or if you know that your digestion is bad, maybe try an elimination diet until it improves. I hope you get to feeling more healthy!

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    Second the liver (but not overloading or you will get too much vit A!) and Florvital or Floradix. I take the Floradix tablets --cheap at iherb.

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    Get a cast iron pan too, and make sure you cook acidic things in it like tomato-based dishes. Fixed my son's anemia when he was 1 year old, and helped fix my mild anemia a few months ago (along with some Floradix liquid, which is rather expensive unfortunately).
    Liz.

    Zone diet on and off for several years....worked, but too much focus on exact meal composition
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    Yes, it could DEFINITELY be related to leaky gut and I'm willing to bet that your PCOS and low ferritin are also connected to autoimmune thyroid issues. People with thyroid issues have notoriously low ferritin levels (I did!) They often have enlarged red blood cells, too (macrocytic anemia).
    Have you ever had your thyroid antibodies tested? Usually, when you're eating well and your ferritin is still low, there's an autoimmune factor involved.

    Please check out the practitioners at http://www.thyroidbook.com/practitioner-locator.html
    They are trained to deal with PCOS, autoimmune conditions and nutrition. If there's no one near you, many of them will work distance and order bloodwork that you can have done at any lab that does blood draws.

    Here's an iron that's popular with people w/ low ferritin. I took it for a long time and although I didn't have my ferritin levels retested, I felt like it gave me more energy, which is a good sign:
    http://www.iherb.com/Enzymatic-Thera...gels/2208?at=0

    For hair loss, I've found fo-ti (he shou wu) to be extremely helpful! It usually takes about a month to stop losing hair and then it will slowly grow back. Extra biotin and silica (Biosil brand) couldn't hurt either!

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    Beets are rich in iron and are said to be good against anemia:

    http://www.shedyourweight.com/the_he..._red_beet.html

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    Thanks for the advice everyone -- I've had chicken liver before but not beef liver. Any tips on how to cook it??

    hazyjane - My blood cell counts are fine, except for a really high platelet count, which has been constant over the past few years. No doctor ever questioned it, and I only looked into it recently and found out it could be due to low iron stores. I'm not anemic but I do have low iron stores. I had my TSH level tested twice in the past few months, but not T3 or T4 or antibodies, because both doctors (PCP and endo) said that the TSH level was normal. To be honest, I'm scared to get a definitive diagnosis of having thyroid issues, too, in addition to hormonal and nutritional problems. I get frustrated and depressed going to see doctors and having them treat me like I'm a hypochondriac. And I don't know that it would make a difference in terms of how I eat/exercise/live... except now I'm going to be more strict about being gluten-free. The other thing is, this dermatologist said he'd check ferritin levels again in a few months, and I suppose if the iron stores aren't higher by then, he will test those other things. He's been the most helpful of all the doctors I've been to in the past few months.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by imasin View Post
    Thanks for the advice everyone -- I've had chicken liver before but not beef liver. Any tips on how to cook it??

    hazyjane - My blood cell counts are fine, except for a really high platelet count, which has been constant over the past few years. No doctor ever questioned it, and I only looked into it recently and found out it could be due to low iron stores. I'm not anemic but I do have low iron stores. I had my TSH level tested twice in the past few months, but not T3 or T4 or antibodies, because both doctors (PCP and endo) said that the TSH level was normal. To be honest, I'm scared to get a definitive diagnosis of having thyroid issues, too, in addition to hormonal and nutritional problems. I get frustrated and depressed going to see doctors and having them treat me like I'm a hypochondriac. And I don't know that it would make a difference in terms of how I eat/exercise/live... except now I'm going to be more strict about being gluten-free. The other thing is, this dermatologist said he'd check ferritin levels again in a few months, and I suppose if the iron stores aren't higher by then, he will test those other things. He's been the most helpful of all the doctors I've been to in the past few months.
    TSH doesn't mean anything when it comes to autoimmune stuff- my TSH has always comes back normal, yet I can be freezing, no energy, losing handfuls of hair, etc... The reason your docs didn't want to test your antibodies is because it's considered an medically unnecessary test (meaning that a diagnosis doesn't change the treatment in conventional medicine) and the insurance companies dissuade them from using those tests because it costs them more.
    However, positive antibodies absolutely change the treatment in "functional endocrinology" and you don't usually need to treat it with nay prescription meds.

    I had the same thing as you- normal iron but low ferritin.
    The thing about the thyroid thing is that it can be the cause of most of your endocrine problems (with the immune system being the cause of the thyroid problems!)
    I know it sounds scary, but it's actually less scary when you finally understand what's going on and how to treat it. It's also less scary when you realize that the immune system could be the underlying cause of all of this so that instead of thinking that you have ALL these different issues, you realize that it's really just ONE issue causing all these different problems. Does that make sense?

    There's also the chance that your hormones are causing receptor site resistance for thyroid hormones (common w/ PCOS) and someone trained in functional endocrinology can figure out what to do for that patter of symptoms.

    I'm being treated without any meds and I'm getting good results I just want to encourage you that it's not as scary as it seems right now. At first, I was freaked out, but I did my research, started the protocol my holistic doc gave me (which is pretty simple, actually), then I started feeling better and each month, my health falls a little more into place I lost weight, stopped losing hair, started having more energy and my hormone levels are starting to improve.

    I wish I had discovered this years ago- I could have saved a lot of time and money that I spent going in circles trying to fix my endocrine system!!

  10. #10
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    hazyjane - thank you for all the information! I have a few more questions - how is the immune system the cause of all this? What kind of trigger would there be? And what is your treatment plan/protocol?

    I have some genetically inherited autoimmune issues-- tuberous sclerosis complex (benign tumors growing under the skin or on the internal organs), and seborrheic keratoses (really tiny spots on the face, common in dark-skinned people)-- and I'm wondering if it's related to thyroid issues at all.

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