Iron Deficiency Symptoms When the Common Symptoms DON’T Fit, Plus a Remedy Tip

July 19, 2012

(This information is not doctor-confirmed—it’s just my personal experience and opinion. Use your own judgement for your own health.)

Many websites list iron-deficiency symptoms such as tiredness, which I never really noticed. Yet it is my belief I was iron deficient.

I had a severe problem: I couldn’t move–not even roll over in bed–without feeling like my brain was spinning; and along with causing head discomfort, this kept me on the verge of nausea. This was extreme dizziness!

My doctor was on vacation. I don’t remember what prompted me to try iron supplements (I think it was an educated person’s suggestion), but a few hundred percent of the “recommended daily allowance” of iron, a few times per day, cured me gradually over I think about a day or two.

This does make sense, because iron is needed for red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body; and what happens when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen? Dizziness of course!

Here is a nice clear page about iron http://health.learninginfo.org/what-does-iron-do.htm  But if you read that page, and many others around the web, you’ll see that tiredness is the symptom most often mentioned.

So why didn’t I feel tired or lacking in energy? Because I was a person who habitually did what I judged needed to be done, regardless of my energy level. In other words, I had long before forgotten what rested and energized felt like, living on adrenaline, willpower, and love for others. I was deaf to my body’s subtle signals.

I repeated the on-off “test” process a few times: I stopped taking iron for a while or maybe only a couple of times per month, had the dizziness come back; took more iron and felt fine. I repeated this cycle more than twice, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t coincidence. Iron really was what I needed. (BE WARNED: Too much iron can damage organs, so be careful and consider having your blood iron level tested.)

Then I had “another” problem: taking an iron supplement daily for a long time wasn’t enough. I cooked in iron skillets; took 100% US RDA of iron daily; I included in my diet lots of fresh broccoli and swiss chard, canned spinach, eggs, beans, prunes and raisins, and occasionally red meat (all iron-rich foods, but most are calcium too). Still I could feel the dizziness coming back (thankfully I’d learned to notice it before it got severe). Without blood tests I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I was worried.

I did another internet search to learn what interferes with iron absorption. I realized that I was usually consuming my iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods and whole grains (both of which block iron absorption), and I was always taking my iron pill with my multi-vitamin-mineral pill which also contained calcium. These were not helpful habits.

See these pages for detail on what interferes with iron absorption, and how to increase absorption:
http://www.ivillage.com/iron-absorption/6-n-145851
and
http://www.livestrong.com/article/34792-foods-interfere-iron-absorption/

I also read in the book “the Four Hour Body” that the author, Timothy Ferris, did have his blood tested before and after adding orange juice to his somewhat strict diet. His test proved what one of those webpages says: citrus juice increases blood iron content (because, it is thought, of the Vitamin C content in the juice). This didn’t make Mr. Ferris happy (because, he says, men don’t lose blood monthly and so have no way to rid themselves of too much iron); but it’s some good news for anyone already low in iron. Orange Juice can help. ……….By the way,  I’ve only read a part of his book, but found it has a lot of good information in it. Here’s a link to it on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Body-Uncommon-Incredible-Superhuman/dp/030746363X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342717373&sr=1-1&keywords=the+four+hour+body

So, I started taking my near-daily iron pill with vitamin C (which helps with iron absorption), AND when other nutrients can not interfere: in the middle of at least a 4-hour stretch between meals, or two hours after dinner if I won’t be having a late-night snack.

Before I figured out how to absorb enough iron, I had already committed to taking better care of myself, including getting enough hours of sleep. I noticed that even 8-9 or more hours didn’t feel like enough, and I blamed this on my dreams. I was always busy in my dreams trying to get things done, just like in my waking hours. I learned to turn off my mind when going to sleep, telling myself that everything can wait because now was the time to rest. This helped considerably with waking up energized. But after correcting my iron intake, I was surprised at how much better I felt! I still get 8-9 hours of sleep occasionally, but often only seven, and I have real energy—I don’t have to push myself like I did for years. (I still sometimes have to push myself to work on the right chores when I’d rather work on different ones, but that’s another issue.)

SUMMARY:

  • Iron deficiency can cause tiredness; BUT, if you don’t notice that, it can go on to cause severe dizziness.
  • It’s serious when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen flowing—not something to cure with will-power.
  • To make sure more of the iron you consume is absorbed:  A) try to eat some iron-rich foods at separate times from tea, coffee, bread, cereal, dairy, beans, tofu, etc., B) try to take any iron supplements on an empty stomach if you can, or with foods that don’t interfere.
  • Take citrus juice or vitamin C with your iron foods or iron pills. (NOTE: Potatoes are rich in vitamin C too, if not over-processed.)
  • Listen to your body and find out what it needs, so you can last longer to do more for others (and for yourself).

Now I feel great, and have more energy than I’ve had in a long time. Real energy.

© NPM

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3 Responses to “Iron Deficiency Symptoms When the Common Symptoms DON’T Fit, Plus a Remedy Tip”

  1. sleep aids said

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  2. I came here searching for something else, but this enlightened me regardless. Interesting stuff!

  3. Sidney Behmer said

    Iron supplements are great specially if you have anemia caused by depletion of iron. be advised that iron supplements can cause black stools. .,.`”

    Yours truly http://www.healthmedicinelab.com/bilirubin-in-urine/

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