Iron is in abundance in nature and in our food, so why is iron deficiency anemia as common as it is? Is everybody who has low iron levels diagnosed with Anemia? How is iron deficiency determined? How do I know if I’m getting enough? First we will need to acquire some basic understanding about iron and how we can become deficient.

What does the body use iron ?

Iron is most commonly known for it’s essential role in the formation of hemoglobin, the substance in the red blood cells which carry oxygen. Hemoglobin is a complex molecule with iron at the middle and is equal to chlorophyll in green plants except that the iron is replaced with calcium. Iron is also required for cells to use oxygen to create energy to function. This crucial mineral is also required for the immune system; lack makes neutrophils (one kind of white blood cell) less powerful. Additionally it is needed to enable your mind to work properly. Another intriguing role iron plays is in the detoxification of drugs and other toxins taken into the body.

What causes iron deficiency?

There’s not any specific elimination mechanism within the body for iron. It’s largely lost in bleeding, like during menstruation and significant injury, with a little reduction from perspiration, hair and dead skin cells flaking off and in the gut. What the body does is control the amount coming in, and 90 percent of iron is recycled and recovered. Recycling not an idea originated by man, but his creator. If the body needs iron it absorbs more, if it’s sufficient it will stop consuming it. Most people’s diet is abundant in iron. Deficiency usually comes from bad absorption, as opposed to from deficiency in the diet, although anemia may result from blood loss, and occult (hidden) blood loss like hook worm infestation and bleeding disorders. While iron from animal products (mainly in the bloodstream absorbed ) is absorbed more easily, animal products need iron and other nutrients to detoxify the toxins they contain. About of 5 to 10 percent of the iron in food is normally consumed. This can go up in times of additional demand like menstruation and in cases of anemia when it may be as large as 45 to 64%.

The significant cause of iron deficiency is vitamin C deficiency in addition to anti iron compounds within our western diet. Like Tea and coffee that reduce absorption. Vitamin C is easily destroyed. An orange can lose most of it is vitamin C within hours of picking. Processing destroys many vitamins, including around 90 percent of vitamin C and many people’s diet is deficient in fresh fruits and vegetable that are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for the absorption of iron. The digestive function is crucial, low stomach acid, antacids can decrease absorption. Lack of intrinsic factor in the stomach prevents absorption. This intrinsic element is similar in construction to B12’s intrinsic factor, and heme, the iron containing molecule in hemoglobin.

It’s interesting to note that chlorophyll in green leafy vegetables have a similar in structure. Both heme and chlorophyll have the identical structure, except that heme has iron at the middle, chlorophyll has calcium. Oxalates and phytates in food bind to iron but calcium causes it to be released. Again it’s interesting that calcium is high in green leafy vegetables, particularly Chinese greens. It appears to me that this is no crash! Iron has to be chelated (bound) to be transported. Unbound inorganic iron packs certain bacteria. Lack of phytate to bind free iron has been implicated in colon cancer. Phytic acid, also referred to as phytate, is called Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP6) (Inositol is a member of the B group of vitamins). This intriguing substance binds to minerals. It’s been believed that it prevents their proper absorption. This assumption has been proven to be incorrect. It does bind minerals so as to transfer them and it seems that it releases them when required. Free, inorganic iron is toxic.

Iron will respond very easily with oxygen causing chemicals which destroy cell membranes, including that of the gastrointestinal tract. Excess can cause a variety of iron overload diseases. It can cause irritation to mucous membranes and bleeding, liver damage and renal failure. Many bacteria also require iron and unbound iron may cause germs to multiply. Overload has happened in South African Natives from alcohol distilled in iron stills and cooking in iron cooking pot. This would happen to be inorganic free iron that would have caused GIT irritation. Too many blood transfusions may also cause Iron overload.

How is iron deficiency determined?

Iron deficiency Anemia is usually diagnosed by a blood test and studying signs. Pathology Blood Tests. A Hemoglobin count is taken from a blood sample and if the count is below a set lower limit, the man is believed to have iron deficiency anemia, if above a set upper limit, the man is deemed to have an excessive or iron overload. Symptoms can also be considered of course. Now Pathology blood tests can provide invaluable information, however like any evaluation done on anything it must be properly interpreted. The limitation is that the whole test can tell anyone is what’s going on in the blood in the minute that the sample was taken. Also it tells what’s in the blood, not the cells. The blood may also be high in a mineral because it’s bringing out from 1 spot to transfer it to another. In 1 case a woman had dangerously low Hemoglobin in her first test and before her next evaluation, which revealed normal iron levels, she’d eaten a meal mainly of whole grains and used a great deal of vitamin C. I have to emphasis at this stage that pathology blood test and Naturopathic blood test are taking a look at different sides of the image. I’ve had people show low B12 in my live blood test when there Pathology Blood test revealed normal B12. There was enough B12 in their blood at the moment, but the overall average was reduced. A Naturopathic blood test is looking at the lack by the way in which the blood cells were shaped giving a long term picture, Pathology blood tests are considering what is happening in the moment.

Deficiency Symptoms

Fatigue, decreased exercise tolerance, behavioral changes, anorexia, and pica (compulsive eating of non-food items), cognitive and growth abnormalities in children, pale skin within lower eyelid, finger and toenails and gums, fingernails can be lean and spoon shaped; red and burning tongue and mouth; smooth, waxy, glistening tongue and gastritis. Please note, other factors besides iron deficiency can cause these symptoms. See a healthcare professional such as a Naturopath for affirmation.

Am I getting enough iron?

I consider the ideal supplement for iron deficiency is vitamin C together with a diet high in iron rich foods such as parsley, pine nuts, legumes particularly legumes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables, especially Chinese veggies. Vitamin C has to be obtained with bioflavonoids, vitamin E, and Beta Carotene otherwise it becomes a free radical in it’s self and can lead to damage.

Use plenty of vitamin C rich raw vegetables and fruit such as lemons, citrus, black currant, red capsicum, rose hips, parsley, raw cabbage, pineapple etc.. Because of contemporary Horticulture, it’s unlikely to be sufficient. Don’t use ironware cookware on a regular basis. If you would like to use an iron supplement, use one which is naturally derived, not an iron . Many common iron supplements may promote bacterial growth. They also can lead to constipation, so take steps to be sure your bowels are moving frequently, at least two times a day. Mineral deficiencies can be located by a naturopath with live blood analysis.