Low Iron is a common thing to see on bloodwork and in general we’ve been told ‘ get as much iron as you can’ but is that always the best thing?
I find that most women don’t have a deficiency in iron but in fact an ineffective way of putting the iron they have to use in the body.
I address this issue and explain a few of the root issues that may be contributing to it in the video below!
Why do we not need extra iron/all the iron we can get?
The fact is, we already have a lot of iron in our foods. Processed foods are fortified with iron and there are so many foods that we consume that contain iron- any meat, seafood, several veggies (spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, peas), beans, tomato products.
But if our iron is low, why don’t we need more iron?
If a test is showing low iron- it’s more often not the issue that we don’t have enough iron, it’s that we aren’t properly using what we have. And lots of times when a blood test shows low iron in the blood it really means that your body has pushed excess iron into the tissues (can only tell this by a hair test).
Before I tell you why it’s not working properly, I want to tell you first the reason you don’t just want to keep consuming iron without addressing why it’s not working- when we have iron that is not properly being utilized it sequesters in tissues, organs ie the gut and can feed infections. Also inflammation, high estrogen symptoms, and difficult hormone healing can be issues as well related to this.
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So why is it not working?
Here is the long and short- iron doesn’t act alone. Without copper, iron becomes stuck.
Both conventional and functional medicine focus solely on iron status, typically in relation to ferritin. Rarely do they consider that iron status is more complex than just measuring iron.
If we look beyond iron and start to address other nutrients like copper, our iron imbalances disappear. Iron levels are so much more than one blood measurement.
If you think about it, other than blood loss, our bodies have no way of getting rid of excess iron- that’s why it’s very important to utilize an iron recycling system.
What’s the iron recycling system?
Iron is meant to be in motion:
We all have an iron recycling system that helps our bodies produce iron every 24 hours.
Our bone marrow uses this iron to make more red blood cells. RBC are live for about 120 days and then are promptly broken down and the process is repeated.
Ceruloplasmin (which is regulated by copper and vitamin a) help make this happen. When copper and vitamin a are inadequate, ceruloplasmin can below and impact this system. Thus it leads to more iron being stored in the tissues and can lead to more inflammation, high estrogen symptoms and difficult hormone healing.
Other things that inhibit iron recycling:
- lack of copper
- lack of vitamin a
- chronically high stress
- excess estrogen
Excess vitamin d supplementation (yea you heard that right- vitamin d is a direct antagonist to vitamin a)
So basically this can’t just be fixed with more copper- we must have vitamin a that is active to make this whole system work.
get a hair test to see where your levels are ( I offer this in my group and 1:1 packages)
- limit iron-fortified foods
- cooking in cast iron
- mega-dosing iron supplements
- utilize castor oil packs (if not pregnant or menstruating) the quercitin in castor oil packs is an iron chelator)
- boost copper & vitamin A- beef liver, shellfish, bee pollen/royal jelly, cacao, cod liver oil, chlorophyll., raw dairy., cheese, eggs.
Type of pans I’m using now?
I will continue to use stainless steel, coated cast iron, and I most recently got the always pan(use this link to save $20) by our place.