Me shouting beneath 10 blankets and a comforter: “Babe can we please turn the heat up?”
Him: “The thermostat is already at 85F...”
I have never tested for iron deficiency, but I have experienced each of the following symptoms at one point in my life. I've had the random episodes of weakness, chills, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, heart palpitations, chest pains, and cravings. To which, my immediate thought is always, “OMG I’m prego!”
As my husband and I approach our 3-year mile marker of marriage, I am often faced with the questions: “Where’s the baby?” or “ When are you two going to have a little one?” As a Mrs., I always become an honorary member of any baby-related talks, whether voluntary or involuntary.
What I’ve learned from those talks is that a number of the symptoms I’ve experienced are analogous to those of expecting mothers. Afterward, I typically spend several hours scouring articles on WebMD to debunk myths about me being prego until my mind finally settles on the possibility of it being “that time of the month”, stress, or premature aging.
After a recent conversation between my best friend and me, I realized we shared comparable experiences and symptoms. Following our talk on personal scares, I knew I must explore this topic on a larger scale.
Iron Deficiency, one of 5 forms of Anemia, occurs when our bone marrow does not produce enough quality red blood cells. This greatly impacts our body's ability to regulate oxygen toward body tissues and, in turn, carry carbon dioxide to our lungs for expulsion. Ultimately, this results in weaker red blood cells and fewer adequate red blood cells.
A common misnomer about individuals who are iron deficient is that they are not consuming proper amounts of iron. Other underlying factors of iron deficiency, such as blood loss and pre-existing gastro-related conditions, also inhibit iron absorption.
As a woman who is also vegan, conversations surrounding supplements and vitamins, to improve iron levels, are constant from fellow vegans, vegetarians, and other health-enthusiasts. To their questions, I usually highlight key groups that improve signs of iron deficiency, like Tofu, Broccoli, dried beans, lentils, dark leafy veggies, Bananas, foods abundant in Copper, and Vitamins A, B12, B9, B3, and B2, C, and E. Of those mentioned, you rarely see Kiwi named, though it aids in iron absorption.
Nevertheless, Iron intake is only as good as it's ability to be absorbed. Vitamin C aids our body's in absorbing Iron. However, iron absorption rates may still be impaired if you consume caffeine and tannin-rich foods - i.e. coffee, teas, chocolate/cocoa, and wine. (Shoutout to my bestie, a.k.a the Doctor in training, for sharing the impacts of caffeine and Vitamin C on the body's ability to absorb iron.)
The best cure for conditions such as iron deficiency is early detection, mindfulness, and preventative maintenance.
If you loved this week’s blog and you learned something new, leave me a comment below! Also, don’t forget to share this with others who might be struggling with the same issue! If you have any questions that weren’t covered, leave them in a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
*I am not a medical doctor or health professional. All content and media provided are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.*