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Anaemia/ Iron Deficiency

Anaemia occurs when the blood does not have enough red blood cells or haemoglobin to carry oxygen around to the cells of the body. Although most people think that anaemia simply = iron deficiency, this is not true. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common form of the condition, and this is when a lack of Iron means the body cannot produce adequate haemoglobin (the substance in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen around the body). Other types of anaemia may result from:

  • a lack of Vitamin B12 or folate;
  • chronic diseases interfering with red blood cell production;
  • problems of the bone marrow (where blood cells are made);
  • excess destruction of cells; OR
  • improperly shaped haemoglobin molecules.

The signs and symptoms of all types of anaemias include tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, pale skin and conjunctiva (of the eyes), lightheadedness or dizziness, feeling cold, and a rapid heart beat. Sighing for no reason can also be a sign of anaemia.

As there are many different types, there are also many different root causes of anaemia, from vitamin deficient diets, to blood loss, autoimmune diseases, pregnancy and certain medications.

Treatment of anaemia will depend upon the cause. Supplementation of Iron, B12 and Folate will almost always be useful, as these nutrients are required for the proper formation of red blood cells. That said, simply supplying these may not treat the cause (unless the cause is a deficiency), and this should always be investigated. When taking B Vitamin such as B12 and Folate, it is often important to take all of them at once, as they work together in the body - a good supplement choice is Herbs of Gold B Complete Sustained Release, which contains good doses of all the B Vitamins needed.

Not all Iron supplements are the same. Most of those from the chemist contain Iron sulphate, which is the cheapest form to produce, but not the best absorbed but the body. Because of this, it is more likely to cause side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, dark coloured stools, heartburn and discomfort in the stomach. Forms that may be better tolerated include amino acid chelates, gluconates, fumarates and citrates. Vitamin C supplements such as Melrose Vitamin C plus Bioflavonoids; and herbs such as Nettle and Chickweed that are contained in Floradix Liquid Iron also help greater amounts of Iron to be absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream.

Updates - 24 October 2014

Yi, S et al (2011) ‘Association between serumferritin concentrations and depressive symptoms in Japanese municipal employees’, Psychiatry Research, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 5 April 2011.

A recent study has shown that men with lower levels of stored iron were at a greater risk of having depression and depressive symptoms. Seems women aren’t the only ones who need to take care of their iron stores!

Vive Health Naturopaths recommend the following products for Anaemia.

Product Suggested Dosage
1. Thompsons Organic Iron 24mg (30T) 1 tablet a day away from any fibre supplements
2. Melrose Vitamin C plus Bioflavonoids  (125g) ½ tsp with meals.
3. Herbs of Gold B Complete Sustained Release (60T)                1 tab daily with breakfast.
4. Floradix Liquid Iron (250ml, 500ml) 10ml x 2 daily (30 minutes before morning and evening meals).
5. Blooms Organic Iron Plus (300ml, 500ml) 10ml x 2 daily.

NOTE: Consideration should always be given to individual requirements. Please consider seeing a qualified practitioner before commencing a new treatment protocol or when combining supplements with pharmaceutical medication.

For more information on Anaemia, Iron Supplements, or to ask a Qualified Naturopath a question Click Here.

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