A few people asked what protocol I’m following to correct my anemia. Keep in mind, this is a protocol specific to my body. Writing about what I’m doing helps me to organize my thoughts and keep me on track. It’s best that you consult a health care practitioner to figure out what’s right for you. If you missed the first post, I talked about lab ranges normal vs optimal and my journey from iron deficient non-anemia to anemia.
On May 26th my Ferritin was 6 ng/ml. After doing the following protocol my ferritin increased to 26 ng/ml (as of July 22nd). So, I’m going to stay on my protocol until my ferritin gets to 70 ng/ml (or close to it). I’m feeling so much better already, what a difference it’s made in my energy level and concentration! And, best of all, my last period was so much lighter! Remember low ferritin can affect the blood vessels of the uterus and CAUSE heavy bleeding.
Three main steps in rebuilding iron stores.
#1. Correct conditions of excessive menstrual flow or GI bleeding
Anemia doesn’t always result from not getting enough iron in your diet. Anemia can also result from loss of blood due to excessive menstrual flow or bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. See other causes of heavy bleeding here and address the root cause. Anemia can also result from chronic illness or absorption issues.
#2 Increase Iron absorption
You could eat plenty of organic iron-rich foods in your diet, but if your stomach acid is low, you may not break down your food or absorb all the wonderful nutrients. I’m thinking this may have been part of my issue. So, I start my mornings with half a lemon squeezed into a glass of room temperature water. I also drink a small glass of water with a splash of apple cider vinegar before meals. Both lemon juice and raw fermented apple cider vinegar (ACV) boosts the acidity of your stomach to improve digestion and the breakdown of nutrients.
Other absorption issues may be caused by leaky gut, poor enzyme production, and Pernicious Anemia. Start by finding the root cause!
Another interesting (but slightly depressing) fact is that coffee and tea inhibit iron absorption. I believe this was another issue resulting in my low iron stores. I drank tea with meals and sometimes coffee after breakfast.
According to Paul Pitchford, in Healing With Whole Foods, to encourage the absorption of iron, one must “build the qi in the spleen and pancreas and reduce damp/mucus conditions.” He explains how on page 342 and 344 of Healing With Whole Foods or you can see your Chinese Medicine practitioner for help.
#3 Add nutrients that build healthy blood
I was already eating a diet with iron rich animal and plant sources, so I decided to supplement to boost my intake of iron and nutrients that are required for iron absorption. I’m in no way recommending supplement brands. Do your research. I often look up supplement brands on Labdoor for purity and efficacy. Labdoor is an independent company that tests supplements.
Vitamin C Vitamin C enhances iron absorption. It also helps strengthen the capillaries which can reduce heavy bleeding. My doctor recommended 3000-5000mg. On average I was taking about 2,000 mg and eating foods high in vitamin C. I use Innate Brand C Complete Powder which tastes delicious and is made from whole foods. I also eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C.
Iron bis-glycinate 28mg daily. I’m taking Pure brand OptiFerin-C. I took the Vitamin C and Iron together on an empty stomach.
Co Enzyme B Complex by Innate contains B12, Folate and other B vitamins which are needed for iron absorption. B12 is needed to make healthy red blood cells and nerve cells. Beef Liver is the food with the highest source of B12, here are some others. See sources for folate rich food here.
Stinging Nettle Infusions. One cup of dried nettles to a quart of hot water. Steep for 4 hours, strain and keep cold in the refrigerator. It’s delicious, I LOVE cold nettle infusion! I should probably drink a quart several days a week, but don’t always get around to it. Nettles are a nutritive vascular tonic and high in minerals. Stinging nettles are indicated in cases of fatigue, anemia, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, varicosities, pelvic congestion, sugar cravings, and acne. See video below for how to make an herbal infusion.
Seaweed is my snack of choice as a blood builder. I snack on it and sprinkle Sesame Seed/Seaweed Gomasio on just about everything. Seaweed contains both iron and iodine which are essential to replace blood loss during heavy bleeding. Never supplement with iodine until you consult your physician.
Eliminate foods that increase the inflammatory prostaglandins (PGE2). PGE2 can increase menstrual bleeding and cause menstrual cramps. Dairy from cows that produce the inflammatory A1 casein. A1 casein is produced by Holstein cows which are the #1 milk producing cows in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. So if you are experiencing menstrual cramps or heavy bleeding you may want to consider eliminating cows milk from your diet.