Heavy periods and iron deficiency anaemia

Fatigue, weakness, headache, short of breath. Perhaps you are familiar with these symptoms. They are very common among women and although generally speaking they do not underlie serious illness, they can be a sign of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). Most often, IDA is linked to poor nutrient absorption or insufficient iron intake. Iron deficiency anaemia can be caused by loss of blood (in the case of heavy periods).

Heavy flow

Millions of women suffer from heavy uterine bleeding or heavy flow. They usually cause a significant discomfort and cramps, every month. It is worth checking with a specialist to see if your symptoms fall within the normal range or if you require further investigation. By “further investigation”, I do not refer to signing up for contraceptive pills or other heavy traditional medications. However, it helps you know on which side of the boat you are, so you can take care of your situation and look more into it. However, do not rush and take the only advice your GP/gyn/ob gives to you. Do not hesitate to ask for more opinions, including a more holistic approach.

IDA

Iron is important to your body because it helps make hemoglobin, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. When there is a shortage of iron in your body, your blood cells won’t have enough oxygen. This might make you feel tired, dizzy, weak and your skin look pale. IDA can also be asymptomatic so some women might not have any symptom.

Naturist treatment of IDA

Diet

Changing your diet might be one of the first steps you want to take in improving your iron intake. Red meet, pork and poultry are amazing sources of iron that are quick absorbed by your body.

Seafood, beens, dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruits are rich in iron but if you have a serious iron deficiency, eating just this won’t be enough. Including this in your diet will help you have a steady level of iron, which is also very important, but it will not make a significant change to your iron level if this is seriously low.

Add iron supplements. These can be taken with vitamin C for a better absorption.

Important:

If you are a coffee lover, it is worth knowing that caffeine does not allow iron to absorb into your body. Caffeine has a significant impact on your iron absorption. To avoid this, is best to take your supplements/eat iron rich foods at least 1h before drinking coffee or eat your meal/take your supplements at least 2h after having your coffee. Respecting these two simple rules will make your treatment more efficient in a shorter period of time.

Foods that help you absorb more iron

Foods rich in vitamin C: studies showed that taking 100 mg of vitamin C increased iron absorption by 67%. Hence, drinking citrus juices or eating other fruits rich in vitamin C while you are eating your high-iron foods will increase your body absorption.

Foods rich in vitamin A and Beta-Carotene : in a recent study conducted on 100 participants, it has been found that giving foods rich in vitamin A increased iron production up to 200%. Adding Beta-Carotene increased iron absorption up to 300%.

Foods that may hinder iron absorption

Foods containing Phytate: foods like whole grains, nuts, cereals and soy. Phytate can decrease the absorbtion of iron up to 82% when consumed in large quantities (250g). However, the effects can be minimised by consuming foods that encourage iron production.

Calcium rich foods: Dairy products (milk, cheese) can hinder iron absorption. One study has found that 165 mg of calcium from milk can reduce iron absorption by 50-60%. To maximise iron absorption, calcium rich foods should not be combined with your iron rich diet.

Foods containing polyphenols: coffee, tea, wine and some cereals. In one study, drinking a cup of black tea reduced iron absorption up to 70%. However, if participants drank the tea between meals, the absorption was only about 20%.

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