(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:
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.)
- 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.
October 12, 2011
God designed work and rest. Sometimes He set the intervals. Day and night. Summer and Winter. Six days of work and a Sabbath. Six years of cultivation and harvest, and the seventh year a Sabbath for the land (which some modern farmers have found so beneficial that they rotate their plots, always having one at rest). Sometimes God devised or allowed exceptions. There is no winter of rest around the Equator. Slaves, prisoners, and the persecuted were not always allowed a Sabbath of rest. Since Christ, we are freed from strict rules, as were made for the childhood of humanity; we are to understand, value, and aim for what the laws were supposed to accomplish, and we are saved even when we fall short.
For years I thought that at least some of the reasons for resting the seventh day, was for the Jews to gather for listening to God’s word (as they did not each have their own Bible), to exercise their trust in God to provide for them even if they did not work non-stop, to set the Jews apart from the rest of the world in an outward way, and to remind the Jews themselves (as well as the world) that God’s people were no longer slaves—that God was better to them than their old earthly masters. I thought that if God was in my heart and thoughts every day, if I read His word frequently, and lived my life for His glory (sharing Him with others, directly or indirectly), that I didn’t have to follow the strict 6-1 schedule. I didn’t need to put one day aside for God, if every day was for God.
I still believe that. But however flexible God is, and our bodies are, there remains the rule of alternating work with rest. It’s part of the earthly human existence God put us in. It has reasons and value, which we should appreciate and respect.
Some people may be built to go all their lives on two-thirds as much sleep as other people, but each better get the rest he or she needs. When there are unusual circumstances or people who need our help, we may be able to go for weeks on a fraction of the sleep we usually need, but eventually we will stop functioning well and even collapse without enough rest. We can break down emotionally or physically—even spiritually if we allow the strain to lead us astray. Jesus didn’t take much rest during His ministry, but then He only had to go at it for about three years before He was done with His physical body.
I really extended myself all this Summer, for the sake of others directly, and for the sake of projects intended in the long run to be mostly for the sake of others. I thought that God was my strength, and He was. I didn’t succumb or stray emotionally or spiritually under the strain, and my body lasted the summer. But then I had a month of physical trouble—a month of rest and refurbishing before I could work again. A Summer on, and month off. It’s like a week on and a day off, but on a different scale. I never would have been able to serve the people who desperately needed my love and help, if I’d stuck to observing Sabbaths for only rest and worship. But what I’ve learned is to have more respect for God’s design, and to look for when I should accept rest, rather than expecting to be “on” for the whole of my life. If I’d taken rest just a bit sooner, I could have prevented my physical crumbling. And on top of that, if I plan in regular rest, I’ll be stronger the next time I’m called upon to work a very long stretch.
I’ve learned to accept that “everything” will never be done, and I’ll make myself sick trying (giving me even less time to get “everything” done), so I’m better off taking time to rest rather than being made to take time being sick. The tricky part is knowing what doesn’t have to be done. I’ve learned to trust that God can help me get enough done, without doing all the time. I’ve long known that choices, balance, and respect were keys, but now experience has in one more way made them a reality in me. I’ve felt consequences of over-tiredness before, but sometimes we humans don’t “get it” the first time around.
I have to take care of the dearest tool God has given me to work with—my body. God knows there is only so many hours in each day, and days in our lives; so He knows what we can and can’t accomplish. We just have to not be too busy to hear His guidance on how to make the best of our time.
Someone who knows me may read this and think, “I knew she was trying to do too much; I told her to rest.” But it’s not a matter of how much I’m trying to accomplish, it’s a matter of how. Working fast when I work is fine, if I can think fast or feel guided. Working on a short night’s sleep is fine, when necessary. But what’s new for me is accepting that I can’t always cut sleep to make things work. There has to be another way, most of the time. There has to be something else to cut, or smarter ways to get things done in the given time. I have to look for those solutions, because I have to respect that God wants me to rest. Rest is a piece of God’s puzzle, and if I accept that piece as non-counterfeit, then I can search for what fits with it, until my life works. I can still amaze everyone with what all I accomplish, because God is my guide and my strength, and He is amazing.
Some people hand out advice which sounds rash to me, like ditching your spouse if he or she seems to be holding you back. I believe more often we need to look for more creative and gradual solutions. You may not feel you can commit to eight or nine hours of sleep, and let everything else work out around that. What you can do, is work toward the rest that you need, as quickly as possible, with trust that there is a way to have a balance appropriate and good for your particular body and spirit. If this post is another nudge to you, that you know you need more rest, aim for it, seriously. You can work better with a full battery, and be happier in the processes. Trust God that it is possible.
© 2011 NPM
Oh, how I’ve missed my connection to the internet, and my digital creation tools!!! Sure I’ve got plenty else to do, but I had digital work lined up and waiting. Finally, I’m back online, and ready to work. Things to write, draw, publish; people to contact, books to sell. I’m excited.
But first let me warn you:
If you do anything on a computer that isn’t 100% web-based (i.e. if you have ANY files saved on your computer), then listen up and save yourself some pain.
My computer was its usual self when I went to bed one night. The next morning it wouldn’t boot up no matter how many times I tried “safe mode” and all the other options.
What a terrible shock!
Yeah, we’ve all heard that we should have backups, but we’ve gotten by without them for years without disaster. We think we’ll be okay, at least till after we get the next couple of projects completed…and the next couple, and the next.
A friend checked out my computer, and said the Hard Drive had simply failed–it had died. Not just sick with a virus, nor crashed in need of a software fix, but dead–never to work again.
I had a lot of my files backed up (copied to CDs and a memory card), but not everything. I felt the pain of missing important images and documents, and wondering how long it would be before I even discovered what all was lost–discovered by not having it when I came to needing it.
A technician confirmed the diagnosis, but was able to run the dead drive through a special software program for 24 hours which recovered all my data files. I was delighted and relieved!!!!! Nothing was lost but time and a few dollars for his service.
…And more time: I still had to call in my warranty and wait for a replacement drive to be shipped to me. Then I had to sit through hours of reinstalling the operating system and re-adjusting standard program settings. I still have to reinstall printer drivers and various software programs I use.
But the point is: Would you be happy if your computer files vanished tonight? If your answer is “NO”, than you really NEED to have every file copied and saved outside of your computer. Every file. As soon as you make it. Don’t go to sleep, or even to the coffee pot, without saving that picture or letter somewhere outside of your hard drive. And don’t go back to business-as-usual after one thorough backup session–you need to back up each and every file AS you make them, from now on.
You should be able to pick up your memory sticks, or discs, or external drives, plug them into a new computer and just keep working where you left off.
Okay, even backed-up files won’t save you the hassle of reinstalling your favorite software after a computer crash, but the software isn’t irreplaceable—your personal or professional files are!
I’ve heard about a special software-loaded external drive which makes continual and up-to-the-minute backups of everything you are doing on your computer, without you ever having to remember to backup anything. As I understand the sales pitch, you can reload not only your files, but your programs/settings from it in a of couple hours, so you don’t have to manually reinstall anything. I haven’t tried it yet. Sounds handy against hardware failure, but wouldn’t save you against virus corruption as manually pasting every file to a secondary drive or memory card would. But anyway, do something right now–don’t wait to go shopping for special gadgets. This could be your last chance.
For those of you who think I’m preaching a doom that won’t touch you; for those who think they can just trust in an invisible protection; let me assure you that you don’t want to suffer file loss. And the service which dug up my lost files, only works in 50% of cases such as mine.