Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Day 2036 - Iron Deficiency

How are your iron levels?

Image source

Mine are good. Now.  But previously ... I was in strife.

About six or seven years ago my iron levels were so low that I had to have iron injections in my butt. Apparently iron levels should be somewhere between 35ish and 150ish.  My doctor had wanted mine around 70. They were at 13.  It was getting dangerous.

My low iron was attributed to heavy periods.  The kind where you pretty much can't leave the house.  Add to that my hormonal migraines and severe cramping and "that time of month" could almost disable me.

I could have continued on with the iron injections of course but it was better to deal with the source of the problem. Besides, those injections left me with butt bruising which I still have seven years later! Yep, two big bruises adorn my butt cheeks to this day.  They say it's not actually bruising but staining caused by the iron dye.  I yell bullshit on that theory given they still hurt when my husband slaps me on the arse.  (Yes, that happens.)

So to fix the evils of low iron I headed to the gyno.  When I explained the heavy bleeding and the super low iron he said "if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog, then it's probably a dog."

I'm not sure why there is a dog in this story, but I'll go with it.

From there we went down the path of a Mirena.  A Mirena is a hormone releasing IUD that prevents pregnancy and can also slow period flow.  My period (in comparison) is almost non-existent.  Bingo! Iron levels right back up to the safe range.  With the added bonus of fewer migraine and the ability to function all month long.

Interestingly enough my mum has the opposite problem. She has too much iron.  This particular condition is pretty serious. It's called haemomochromatosis and if left untreated can get you into all sorts of strife.   She has to have blood removed from her body on a fairly regular basis.  

So that's a long way of me asking, how are your iron levels?

Because when they're not good, then that's not good.

Some of the symptoms of iron deficiency might be fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.  If you are experiencing this then head off to the doctor.

If you know your iron is on the lower side, there are things you can do to help treat iron deficiency. In addition to vitamin supplements, butt jabs and hormone "therapy", here are six foods that might help:

  • Egg Yolks:  Eggs are best eaten whole as the yolk contains both forms of iron - haem and non-haem.
  • Legumes: Soybeans, lentils and black beans are a great source of iron
  • Prunes:  Rich in nutrients they are good for iron and vitamin C.
  • Silverbeet: To ensure maximum iron absorption either boil or saute and add a squeeze of lemon for vitamin C.  
  • Oysters and Mussels: Great sources of iron with mussels also containing valuable amounts of B12 and selenium.  Oysters have zinc which is a bonus.
  • Lean red meat, especially beef: Red meat provides haem iron that is easily absorbed by the body.  They say it's best to eat a portion the size of your palm (there goes my T Bone then). 
They say to pair iron rich foods with foods naturally high in vitamin C such as oranges, kiwifruit etc to help with iron absorption.

Information source:  Mindfood Magazine May 2015

So in this whole "art of aging positively" game we need to be on the ball.

When was the last time you had a blood test? 


  1. Mine sunk to a shocking level last pregnancy - all I could do was lie on the couch while the kids were at school (to then have the energy to deal with them). Once discovered, and fixed, it was amazing the difference!

  2. Mine get pretty low are that time of the month too- I take a liquid supplement that tastes like sugar coated metal :p

  3. Mine are pretty good, but I can tell when they are low and I need a boost. Makes a huge difference!

  4. I haven't for awhile but I'm getting the mirena soon too so hopefully I have as much luck as you did!

    1. I've had a great run with my Mirena. Hopefully you will too.

  5. I've always had a good amount of iron thankfully.
    When I donate blood I'm pretty sure they test your iron then, so that's a good way to be getting regular checks. :)

  6. Well funny you should ask because my doctor just asked me to get them tested today. As a vegetarian, I need to keep a close eye on my iron levels although I am pretty good these days with knowing which foods to eat. I guess the results will tell me soon just how good I've been. Sorry to hear about your low levels and the injections. Sounds dreadful and your mum with the opposite problem. She must be so over getting blood taken all of the time. #teamIBOT

  7. Haven't had iron checked for a long time but don't feel sluggish or tired ) unless I partied too hard) ... Mum always suffered from low iron

    1. Hope your levels stay up. It's a shocker when they're low ...

  8. Mine hovers between 15 and 25 even with supplements. I can get my iron levels up a bit but not the ferritin store level - ever since 3rd child. Also under active thyroid which I take meds for. Very low iron is a terrible feeling of fatigue - it's hard to describe how the energy can just zap at 3pm and you just can't do another thing!

    Due to same reasons as you Leanne plus a monster ever growing uterus I've just had a hysterectomy so watch this space! I'm looking forward to living life again!

    1. I hope it has huge results for you Sam. That energy thing is a bugger. Absolute bugger. It can change you're whole personality when you're battling with low energy levels. Fingers crossed!

  9. I was only thinking this morning that I need to get my iron levels checked again as I've been feeling quite sluggish lately. Last time I got them checked they were just on the borderline of being low. I have the depo so I don't have to worry about periods thankfully.

    1. Yep, get your iron checked. Sometimes it's so simple but can have huge results. Good luck!


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