Near the end of 2016 I didn’t quite feel 100%. Being a nutritionist I am very conscious of what I put into my body, and also lifestyle factors that can impact on my health and vitality. I was eating a very wholesome balanced diet rich in wholefoods (lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, protein, healthy fats and wholegrain carbohydrates), I was exercising 5-6 times each week, getting 8 hours of sleep every night, meditating most day, but something still wasn’t quite right.
I went to my doctor because I wanted to get a full set of blood tests to see what was going on. A few days after getting my blood tests done I got a phone call from my doctor saying everything was “okay” and all my test came back in the normal range. Knowing what I know, I asked to have the tests sent to me so I could investigate them further, and little behold I found my iron (ferritin) levels were low. The range for ferritin an adult female is 20-170, I was sitting at 35. Looking at this result from a holistic perspective I knew this was the one reason I was feeling fatigued, I was slightly anemic.
Iron plays a huge role in energy production in the body. When red blood cells are deprived of iron they become contracted and smaller. Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen, the consequence of not having enough oxygen in the body is constant fatigue. It can take up to 3 months to increase depleted iron stores as each red blood cell that carries iron has a life of 120 days. Knowing this I knew it was something I had to stay on top of for a minimum of 3 months, and then get another set of blood tests to re-access where I am at (which I'm in the process of doing now).
This is also something I see a lot in clinic. I see many clients who are feeling fatigued and are seeking help to increase their energy levels, and more often than not when I ask these clients for their recent blood tests their ferriten levels are often below 60.
I work with many clients who's ferriten levels are on the lower end of the scale. Anyone who has ferriten levels under 60 is more than likely going to have symptoms of fatigue. I’m not saying this is the only reason that might be causing you low energy levels, but if you are feeling flat and can’t work out why it may be worth getting some blood test done and then seeking help from a holistic practitioner to help you interpret your results.
What I did to increase my iron levels:
- I started eating red meat 2x per week (I’m not the biggest red meat fan so I would only have it once every two – three weeks, but I have been making e a conscious effort to make sure I had it in my diet twice a week).
- I supplemented with iron bisglynicate (this form is the most bio-available form on iron to the body, which doesn’t cause constipation). I made sure I had this with vitamin C (lemons, leafy greens, broccoli) to help with iron absorption.
- I started adding Natava SuperfoodsOrganics Spirulina Powder to my smoothies on a regular basis.
- I increased my intake of organic leafy greens.
- I continued to support my gut by consuming raw apple cider vinegar drink in the morning, adding fermented foods to more meals, and supplemented with a probiotic at night. Iron is absorbed in the gut, so good gut health is essential if you need to increase your iron levels.
Even though it takes 120 days for your red blood cells to develop I personally noticed a huge difference in my energy levels within 3-4 weeks. I am still implementing these changes into my lifestyle today. Just a note – if you are vegetarian or vegan consuming red meat doesn’t have to be an option. There are plenty of ways to get your iron levels up with being on plant-based diet. This is something I will touch on in a future post.
If low iron levels is something you struggle with, or if you are feeling fatigue and think iron could be contributing to your symptoms it may be worth getting some blood tests done so you can delve a little deeper. If you need help interpreting your results or are interested in seeking further help to get to the bottom of your fatigue I'd love to see you for a consultation to help you get your health and energy levels back on track!
Nat x x