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Iron deficiency - a female "disease"?

Did you know that 1 in 5 women is affected by iron anemia ? Source

What's the link to migraines?

A study suggests an association between iron-deficiency anemia, hemoglobin and serum ferritin levels and the incidence of migraine in females. As a result, there might be an association between body iron storage status and the incidence of migraine, especially among women.

Why is iron so important and what does it do?

Iron is an essential trace element that regulates cerebral function, cell function, energy metabolism, and neurotransmitter synthesis.

Iron helps produce hemoglobin, a part of red blood cells, which is a molecule that carries oxygen to your blood. If you are not consuming enough iron in your diet, your body will use the iron it has stored, which is also referred to as ferritin. Most women I work with are depleted in both - which, as you can imagine, is not a good thing.

Symptoms of iron deficiency are:

  • brittle hair

  • cracks in corners of your mouth

  • fatigue

  • pallor (pale skin)

  • dizziness

  • headaches

Iron deficiency is also called anemia: it basically means that you don't have enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin to carry adequate oxygen to your body's tissues.

Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to your other organs. If you have anemia, your organs and also your brain will receive less oxygen. When your brain gets less oxygen than it needs to function optimally, it can cause headaches.

Some main reasons for iron deficiency in women are

  • Lack of consumption of iron-rich foods and heme iron

  • Iron stores in your body and bone marrow have become depleted

  • Insufficient B12 or folate to properly mature your red blood cells

  • Dysfunction in the process of creating and then recycling red blood cells

  • Excessive menstrual bleeding

  • Lack of stomach acid that is needed to absorb your minerals

There are two types of iron:

  1. heme iron, which comes from animal sources and is the most bio- available form of iron at 10% absorbable,

  2. and non-heme iron which comes from plant-based sources, and is an inferior source of iron that is only 1% absorbable.

Your best food sources of heme iron:

  • Oysters, clams, mussels

  • Beef or chicken liver (or other organ meats)

  • Beef

  • Poultry

Your best sources of non-heme iron:

  • Beans & legumes

  • Spinach

To absorb the most iron from the foods you eat, avoid drinking coffee or tea or consuming calcium-rich foods or drinks with meals containing iron-rich foods.

To improve your absorption of iron, eat it along with a good source of vitamin C - such as broccoli or parsley - or eat non-heme iron foods with heme iron foods.

Why supplements often don’t help…

When iron and/or ferritin show up low on your blood panel, most doctors will prescribe you iron supplements. I often see women taking low quality supplements that are difficult to absorb for your body and also cause constipation. On top of that, they rarely help with the symptoms. What actually happens is that the next blood panel might be even too high in iron since you have all that excess iron floating around in your blood that’s not absorbed into the cells since none of the underlying issues of your deficiency were addressed.

Your prerequisites for iron absorption:

  • You must have sufficient stomach acid and vitamin C in order to absorb the iron that you ingest with your food. This especially affects anyone who’s been using antacids (PPIs) over the long term.

  • Next, you absorb the iron into the cells (enterocytes) that line the wall of your small intestines as ferritin. Ferritin is the stored form of iron. That’s why low ferritin often is linked to the state of your gut lining.

  • Vitamin B6 helps iron convert into hemoglobin and ferritin, but also copper, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 & B9 have to be in balance to have proper iron levels.

𝗪𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗶𝗿𝗼𝗻 𝗱𝗲𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗶𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗸𝘀?


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