“Why am I tired all the time?” is a question many people often ask themselves. The question actually gets googled about 10 thousand times a month.1
The answer: A number of reasons could be behind your lack of energy; nutritional deficiencies, stress, adrenal fatigue or perhaps even a deeper rooted medical problem could be responsible. Coincidentally many people don’t actually know about the most common nutritional disorder in the world! It’s Iron deficiency.2
If you suffer from low iron or anemia, you probably don’t have the amount of red blood cells that your body needs. Additionally, you may have heard of the word hemoglobin, and might be wondering how that fits in here. Well, Hemoglobin is a molecule inside your red blood cells that delivers oxygen to your organs and tissues. Your red blood cells carry the hemoglobin to the parts of your body that need the oxygen.
Let’s break it down –> anemia = not enough red blood cells = oxygen has a harder time getting to your body!
Ultimately, if your muscles, tissues and organs can’t get enough oxygen, they won’t work properly! This could affect everything from post-workout recovery to just having the strength and energy to get through the day.
In severe iron deficiency cases, one’s heart may have to overcompensate by working harder to get oxidized blood to the necessary areas of the body.3 This could cause dizzy spells or even fainting.
For a personal story about how one athlete dismissed signs of anemia, only to later faint at a public event, read her blogpost: Overcoming anemia: a runner’s perspective. Emma Andrews is the runner and *spoiler alert* she ended up beating anemia, and she shares her nutrition tips as well as key body cues to take note of, as these are signs you may have iron deficiency.
ladies need their iron
Shocker; women need more iron then men. Most woman of child bearing age menstruate. This is natural and part of our body’s training for giving birth. However, this process leads to women losing blood on a regular basis, making women’s bodies more susceptible to iron deficiency. It’s estimated that the average woman loses 0.5mg of ferritin per day of menstruation.7 It might not seem like a lot, but over a year that could mean losing 30-42 milligrams of bioavailable, converted ferritin.
Stress and iron deficiency
There’s no denying chronic stress wreaks havoc on your immune system, metabolism and basically your entire body! Just read our Caffeine crisis article for more insight on how stress affects your fight or flight response system. Taking this into consideration, there could be a link between nutrient deficiencies and stress, right?
You see, as your body stresses out, it physically has to work harder to calm down and get back into a ‘safe state’. Part of this process includes releasing cortisol which increases glucose production through the liver and boosts insulin release via the pancreas – both of which are associated with diabetes by the way!17 This process also harms our adrenals overtime. So compounded, daily stressors can slowly break down your body to the point where it’s using more nutrients than it’s taking in, which sounds like a nutritional deficiency is on the way. Read more about the effects of stress on your adrenals and overall health by checking out this article.
There are also numerous studies that link stress to slowed production and absorption of iron in the body. 14,15,16
Tips for Iron Absorption
It shouldn’t be a surprise to know that the body absorbs vitamins and minerals from food waaaay better than those from pills! 200 to 1500 times better to be exact.4,5
But why is that? Well one study suggests that iron solubility and sourcing from food is needed for proper absorption. Not only that, but gastric acids in your stomach are essential to maintain a healthy iron balance. So if your gut health (microbiome) is on the rocks, you’ll have a difficulty absorbing iron in general. This is why getting your iron from the most bioavailable source as possible, is crucial for absorption.6
The problem with Iron rich foods
In our experience of talking to women with iron deficiency and anemia (and seeing as how all of the women in our head office team have low iron) it seems that no matter how much iron rich food you eat, your levels still aren’t sustainable. This is partially due to most bioavailable food sources of iron have naturally restricted absorption qualities, especially when it’s in ferric form. 7 So without getting too much into the complex science side of things, most iron rich foods (leafy greens, beans, seeds and legumes) contain antinutrients to protect the livelihood of the plant. Beans have these compounds called polyphenols that actually prevent the human digestive system from breaking down and absorbing the food based iron.8 This is why it’s recommended to soak your beans, oats, nuts and seeds. Alcohol and black tea contain high levels of polyphenols9 which is why we don’t recommend taking our PureFood Iron an hour before or after consumption of caffeine or alcohol (sorry no PureFood Iron cocktails allowed!).
Side note: These natural inhibitors can also inhibit absorption of other minerals, not just iron. Example: Leafy greens have different antinutrients called oxalates that prevent your body from absorbing calcium.18 The oxalates can be broken down by lightly steaming the greens, or boiling them.19 You can also try rubbing them with a vegetable oil + lemon mixture.
Something else to consider is our food doesn’t have the nutrition it used to. One example of this is a study that proves the vast amount of carbon dioxide in the air is responsible for robbing crops of their protein.10 So as you can imagine, when you suffer from a nutritional deficiency, it’s even harder to get the amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs, just from food alone. Fortunately, supporting organic farming practices (by purchasing organic food as much as possible) leads to financially supporting an industry that uses safer practices. Another benefit is organic food traditionally has higher nutrition compared to conventionally grown food.11
So, after getting your blood tested by a medical practitioner and confirming you are iron deficient/anemic, what do you do now?
To beat your deficiency quickly and naturally, we recommend our PureFood Iron. It works fast due to the organic food ingredients that are high in dietary iron but also work together to make sure your body can convert the iron into a usable form. This powder only has 3 ingredients; Organic curry leaves, amla berry and moringa leaves. Organic curry leaves and moringa leaves are very high in dietary iron, and the amla berries are high in vitamin C which enhances absorption greatly. 12
This is why our PureFood Iron is so helpful for people looking to beat their deficiencies. Our Iron powder contains mass amounts of plant based foods that are kept as close to its fresh state as possible, to ensure bioavailability. It works so well that in some cases it has reversed anemia to the point where some people were able to stop taking it and they maintained healthy iron levels. This is likely due to the fact that iron can be stored in your body, and used at a later time.13 It’s not water soluble like vitamin B or C, which need to be consumed on a daily basis.
No matter your health journey, we could all use more vitamins and minerals. Check out our PureFood line and find out what products will help you feel great so you can live your best life. Don’t know where to start? The PureFood Trio is what most people need, nutritionally.
1 Used Keywords Everywhere to measure the search volume
4 Vinson JA, Bose P. Bioavailability of Synthetic Ascorbic Acid and a Citrus Extract. Ann New York Academy of Sciences, 1987;498:525-526
5 Vinson JA. Human Supplementation with Different Forms of Vitamin C. University of Scranton, Scranton (PA)RFUll
6 Betesh, A.L., Santa Ana, C.A., Cole, J.A., Fordtran, J.S., 2015. Is achlorhydria a cause of iron deficiency anemia? Am. J. Clin. Nutr102, 9-19.
7 Mariotti, F (Ed.) Vegetarian and plant based diets in health and disease prevention (2017) London, UK: Academic Press (pp.716)
8 Beiseigel, J.M., Hunt J.R., Glahn, R.P., Welch R.M., Menkir, A., Maziya-Dixon, B.B., 2007. Iron bioavailability from maize and beans: a comparison of human measurements with Caco-2 cell and algorythm predictions. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 86, 388-396.
9 Thankachan, P., Walczyk, T., Muthayya, S., Kurpad, A.V., Hurrell, R.F., 2008. Iron absorption in young Indian women: the interaction of iron status with the influence of tea and ascorbic acid. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 87, 881-886.
12 Hallberg L., and Rossander L., 1982. Absorption of iron from Western-type lunch and dinner meals. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 35, 502-509.