September 9, 2020
Pumping Up Your Iron
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.
Feeling overly tired or weak? Have pale skin and feeling cold? Experiencing chest pain or a rapid heartrate? Feeling an uncomfortable tingling or a creepy-crawly sensation in your legs? Getting the urge to nibble on some ice or dirt? Fighting infections frequently? These are some of the possible signs and symptoms of iron deficiency and if you experience all of these, you should speak with your doctor. Iron is a very important mineral in our bodies as it is an essential component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the tissues. In addition, it is a component of vital enzymes in the production of energy as well as a co-factor in the synthesis of several neurotransmitters in the brain. Pregnant women, young children, those with bleeding disorders or digestive disorders (e.g., Coeliac disease), those on strict diets, and the elderly are at greater risk of being iron deficient.
If your doctor has assessed your condition and suggested you take an iron supplement, you have many options available to you…so how do you choose? Keep in mind that inherent to taking an iron supplement is the risk for constipation. This is because unabsorbed iron will nourish certain microbes in the intestinal tract, which can upset the normal microbiota thus resulting in decreased intestinal wall contraction. To make a long story short, the better the iron molecule is absorbed, the lesser the risk. The main reason that there are so many companies offering an iron supplement (and the varying prices) is that each company has come up with their own way of enhancing the absorption of iron.
Of the many formulations available, FLORADIX® is a time-honoured formula that utilizes chelated plant iron along with ferrous gluconate. Constipation with this formula is almost unheard of and its gentle formula is safe to use in children as young as 4 years old.
HEME-IRON (by New Roots Herbal) utilizes heme iron polypeptide derived from animal sources for maximal intestinal absorption. This hematinic formula includes biologically active forms of folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) and vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) to enhance the synthesis of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which in turn increases the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity and reduces some of the symptoms of iron deficiency.
There are many vegetarian-friendly options as well. CanPrev’s IRON BIS-GLYCINATE 20 LIQUID is another hematinic formula that provides iron, vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin C. It contains a chelated iron that is easy to absorb, gentle on the stomach, and does not cause gastrointestinal upset. The liquid is a tasty orange flavour. Vegans should use the capsule version of this formula.
Most iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach as food can significantly decrease the absorption of iron. Drinking citrus juices at the same time as your iron supplement can increase its absorption. Avoid taking dairy products at the same time as iron as calcium can compete for the absorption of iron. Always follow the label or your healthcare practitioner’s directions as taking too much iron can result in toxic effects.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.
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