People starting a raw food diet often ask, "How do I get my iron?" Many take iron supplements because of what they've been told, but iron is in almost everything. You probably have enough, but it just might not be absorbing properly, that's all.
Iron combines with proteins and copper to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the body. Iron deficiency means fatigue, dry hair, you can't think clearly, muscle weakness and anemia. Iron strengthens immunity, helps wound healing, and is important for women using contraceptive drugs and during pregnancy. It keeps hair color young, eyes bright, and the body strong.
Did you know too much iron is actually toxic to the body and bad for you? Free, unbound iron is a strong pro-oxidant and can be toxic at high levels. Iron overload is linked to some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and gland malfunction. Most people have more than enough iron in their body. Ah, but the tests showed you were low. That doesn't mean you don't have enough, it just means it's not absorbing properly OR it's leaking out.
Many things block iron from absorbing. Calcium in foods, for example, will block the absorption of iron as will oxalates (kale, spinach, etc) and phytates in foods. That's why contrary to popular belief, spinach is not a good source of iron. The oxalic acid in spinach binds a lot of the iron rendering it unusable. Ascorbic Acid, that cheap white powder isolate made in a lab they call vitamin C blocks iron absorption. Herbal vitamin C, on the other hand, will increase iron absorption and will help with anemia, so take some herbal vitamin C with your meals. Acids found in some foods also enhance the absorption of various minerals. Also stay away from coffee or tea with meals as the tannins in these drinks will block iron absorption. Acids like apple cider vinegar help digestion and absorption.
Older people usually actually have too much iron because their body can't get it out efficiently anymore. Excess iron is a problem for the body since it can feed certain bacteria and promote oxidative damage, plus cause constipation. Men in particular and women after menopause are at the highest risk since the body will have no efficient way to rid itself of the excess iron.
If older people are low in iron, sometimes the cause is internal bleeding or hemolytic anemia. One test for this is testing for blood in stool. A common cause of internal bleeding is the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.
Another cause can be parasites along with yeast that's turned into fungus from gluten (wheat and flour products) sugar, etc, puncturing the intestinal walls causing leaky gut, ulcerative colitis, crown's and irritable bowel (IBS).
But for most people, the most likely cause is low stomach acid, which is needed for absorption of minerals and vitamins. Stomach acid decreases with age starting at age 40 and gets lower with age.
So what has iron in it? Lots of things. Almost all fruits, greens, nuts (walnuts, pistachio, coconut, brazil nuts) and vegetables. Even onions and garlic have iron. Of course there's beet roots, but did you know sea vegetables, like sea moss, have 10 times more iron than spinach and it's highly absorbable. Many herbs are a good source of natural plant-based iron. Nettle leaf, for example, is a good source of non-constipating iron, along with alfalfa, dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, watercress….those are all in my green formula, which is my personal multivitamin, multimineral. Again, you don't have to buy my green formula, get your own plants, for example, just eat a bunch of dandelion greens or nettles.
But simply taking more of something that's lacking isn't usually the best answer, that's like a balloon losing air because it has a hole and spending all your energy constantly trying to blow the balloon up. The best way is to find the hole and patch it. You're probably getting enough iron in your diet, so the issue would be:
- Is it leaking out (ulcer, leaky gut etc)
- Is it absorbing (low stomach acid)
A major cause for both is stress, burned out adrenals and improper sleep. We should be asleep by 10:00 pm because healing hormones are released between 10 pm and 2 am and we need to be asleep for that to happen. Of course, money problems, relationship problems and other life frustrations can create an underlying chronic stress situation that robs the body of its ability to make proper stomach acid, sleep, hormones etc. That's why I created the night rebuild formula.
Stomach acid can also be helped by taking an acid with every meal (like apple cider vinegar, lemon, lime etc). Also, stomach acid requires vitamin B complex (which my green formula has a lot of), some sea salt, zinc (50 mg with meals or else you'll feel nausea) and also bitter herbs like watercress, endive, dandelion. The more bitter- the more stomach acid and digestion is helped and the more iron you can use.
So less sweet stuff and more bitter and more greens!
Apples help iron absorb better than any other food. Not apple juice- apples! Tart green apples especially are high in malic acid.
And go out in the sun! Sunlight increases the amount of iron in the blood, helps iron absorb better and gives you a tanned look. Speaking of getting some sun... excuse me... I think I'll do just that!