How do you raise iron levels naturally?
Women with heavy periods often struggle with low iron or ferritin. Symptoms of low iron or ferritin levels include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fatigue, vision issues, cold hands and feet, brain fog, anxiety, lightheadedness, hair loss, and dizziness.
I have had all these horrible symptoms. I went through feeling completely exhausted all the time to panicked because it felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. I was able to regain energy and raise my iron and ferritin levels and wanted to share what worked for me.
I increased my iron and ferritin levels holistically through working with a healthcare professional and doing a high level natural protocol for anemia. Now I have the energy to stay focused through a work day without napping.
The Difference Between Iron and Ferritin
Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the organs. Hemoglobin is the protein-bound iron in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin binds the oxygen, fights infections, and averts blood loss.
So many women I have worked with were told their iron levels are “normal” and their doctor did not breathe a word about ferritin. Ferritin is stored iron.
Hemoglobin (iron) levels often test as “normal” while ferritin levels are low. Low ferritin causes the same symptoms as low iron, however some medical providers do not test for it.
Increasing Iron Absorption Holistically
Vitamin D is necessary for iron absorption and anemia is linked to low vitamin D. Megadosing on vitamin D is not helpful because the body can’t absorb very large amounts and it becomes toxic in high dosages. See this study.
Vitamin B12 is needed to absorb iron well. Anthony William, the Medical Medium, explains, “An ideal B-12 supplement includes both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. This B-12 blend can help with neurological disorders and diseases, anxiety and panic, and the immune system. The right supplement is a better choice than B-12 injections. These shots do not contain the right kind of B-12 blend and have the potential to trigger an overreaction in a sensitive body.”
I love Vimergy liquid B12 because it is bioavailable, organic, has only clean ingredients, and contains both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
Magnesium and non heme or plant based iron compete for space in the gut so do not take them at the same time. It is best to space them 5-6 hours apart.
L lysine increases iron absorption according to a 2017 research study. Vimergy L lysine is organic, free of fillers, and very pure.
Chlorophyll (not chlorella) increases iron absorption. (see study) Spirulina contains a lot of bio available chlorophyll as well as many other vitamins and minerals. I take 4 teaspoons of Vimergy spirulina a day to increase iron and ferritin with great results. All spirulina is not created equal and many brands contain heavy metals and toxins!
In order for plant based non heme iron supplements to be absorbed well, they should be taken with 1,000mg of vitamin C. Synthetic vitamin C made with asorbic acid is irritating to the gut. Vimergy Micro-C (500mg of vitamin C per capsule) is made with natural fruits and is gentle on digestion.
Exercise and Healing Modalities
I find acupuncture helps with regaining energy when iron is low. Massage increases the circulation of oxygen around the body which is of benefit with low iron. Therapeutic touch raises hemoglobin levels according to this study.
There are many benefits to low intensity exercise (e.g. walking, swimming, dancing) with low iron or ferritin levels. High intensity exercise may have a negative effect according to this article.
Iron Boosting Foods
There are two different kinds of iron: heme iron and non heme iron. Heme iron comes from meat, while non heme iron comes from plant based sources. Heme iron is more easily absorbed in the body, but the body can use both heme and non heme iron.
Meat has about 45% heme iron and 55% non-heme iron in it. Beef has 6 g of iron per serving while chicken and turkey have 1-2 g. Plant foods contain 100% non-heme iron.
Many fruits and vegetables are high in iron and increase iron absorption. These healing and cleansing foods.can boost your immune system and give your liver some love. Iron boosting foods include:
- spinach (eat raw)
- barley grass juice powder and spirulina
- swiss chard
- pumpkin seeds
- dried apricots (sulfur-free)
- dates (high in iron, magnesium, copper, and vitamins A and C)
- kidney beans
Iron Boosting Drinks:
- Nettle tea
- Raspberry tea
- Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie
Understanding Pathogens and Iron Supplementation
“Even though iron in the right amounts is good for you, viruses love to feed on this metal. Almost all cases of anemia are caused by a low-grade viral infection. You should therefore avoid iron supplements that are not plant-based.”- Anthony William
The Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) feeds on iron when taken in supplement form. (See study) Low grade viruses like EBV may cause the body to drive iron into storage to protect the body’s reserves.
Heme and Non Heme Iron Supplements
The supplement Iron Gold is made from plant based organic fruits and vegetables therefore it doesn’t feed pathogens like other iron supplements do. Vegetables and fruits have natural anti viral properties. This supplement has raised my iron and ferritin levels well along with spirulina.
Fixing gut issues (SIBO, H. Pylori, etc.) and eliminating low grade viruses and bacteria is important before starting iron supplements. While heme iron supplements can feed pathogens if they are already present, taking them can help a lot as you are working on getting to the root cause of heavy periods or low iron/ferritin.
Heme iron supplements are usually gentler on the gut and better absorbed than ferrous sulfate. My favorite kinds of heme iron are Three Arrows Simply Heme, Haem Iron, and Blood Vitality.
If you take traditional iron supplements, drink a lot of water with them to reduce the chances of constipation or headaches as a side effect.
Iron infusions are an IV drip of iron given by a medical professional. They have been life saving for me, but have also caused gut issues. If your medical professional determines you need an iron IV, check your phosphate levels and vitamin D levels before iron infusions. Low levels of vitamin D or phosphate before iron infusions often cause hypophosphatemia. Hypophosphatemia symptoms are similar to severe anemia symptoms.
Foods and Supplements that Block Iron Absorption
If you are taking non heme or plant based iron, avoid dairy and caffeine (coffee, tea, matcha) because these block iron absorption.
Are you still struggling with low iron or ferritin after working with your medical professional? I’d love to hear from you and see if I can help. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Always talk with a medical professional about health concerns. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.