A common deficiency I often see in practice is Iron deficiency. When iron deficiency is severe, red blood cell synthesis becomes impaired, and anaemia results. Globally, the most common cause of anaemia is believed to be iron deficiency due to inadequate dietary iron intake, physiological demands of pregnancy and rapid growth, and iron losses due to parasitic infections.

Clinical features include:

Microcytic anaemia.

Serum ferritin level low.

Serum iron level low.

Increased transferrin level.

Reduced transferrin saturation.

A positive response to iron therapy.

Most of these features will be picked up in functional pathology testing and in addition, a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) and parasitology test can be done to assist a practitioner in ruling out parasitic infections. Several studies suggest H pylori infection influences iron absorption directly, and that iron absorption improves significantly after clearance of the infection.

It is quite difficult to increase Iron levels with supplementation alone. However, absorption improves with fruit sugars and vitamin C.

Here are 3 tips when using supplementation

Use a quality practitioner brand that’s a non-constipating form of iron.

Consume with a piece of fruit such as an apple, pear, kiwi or with a fruit salad.

Take away from other mineral supplements & foods high in zinc or calcium.

 

Food sources of Iron I commonly recommend:

Vegetarian: Kidney beans, Green lentils, Sulphite (preservative) free dried apricots, Fresh spinach, Broccoli and Fresh raw cashews.

Pescatarian: Sardines and Mackerel

Meat eaters: Organic grass-fed beef and Kangaroo.


 

References: 

1) Dreyfuss, M.L., Stoltzfus, R.J., Shrestha, J.B., Pradhan, E.K., Leclerq, S.C., Khatry, S.K., Shrestha, S.R., Katz, J., Albonico, M. & West, K.P., Jr. (2000) Hookworms, malaria and vitamin A deficiency contribute to anemia and iron deficiency among pregnant women in the plains of Nepal. J Nutr, Vol. 130:10, 2527-2536.

2) Fernandez-Banares, F., Monzon, H. & Forne, M. (2009) A short review of malabsorption and anemia. World J Gastroenterol, Vol. 15:37, 4644-4652.

3) Gasche, C., Lomer, M.C., Cavill, I. & Weiss, G. (2004) Iron, anaemia, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Gut, Vol. 53:8, 1190-1197.

4) Gutema, B., Adissu, W., Asress, Y. & Gedefaw, L. (2014) Anemia and associated factors among school-age children in Filtu Town, Somali region, Southeast Ethiopia. BMC Hematol, Vol. 14:1, 13.

5) Lane, D.J. & Richardson, D.R. (2014) The active role of vitamin C in mammalian iron metabolism: Much more than just enhanced iron absorption! Free Radic Biol Med, Vol. 75C, 69-83.

6) Murtagh, J. (2011) John Murtaghs General Practice. McGraw-Hill: North Ryde.

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