Thousands of years ago God told His people an important scientific fact. He said, “The life is in the blood” (Genesis 9:4). What scientists have learned is that there is a substance in the blood, which is indispensable for life, in fact we cannot live without it for more than five minutes (partial lack of it leads to slower death). That substance is oxygen. The blood vessels are like a subway system that is continually carrying oxygen to the different stations where it can both nourish and cleanse the various cells. The word “anemia” literally means “without blood”, but it really describes a variety of conditions that create an inability for the blood to transport oxygen throughout the body. Iron is a primary agent in this process. Iron is indispensable for respiration. It is one of the keys to the energy production process. Iron is involved in the manufacture of hemoglobin, the protein that carries most of the oxygen in the red blood cells. Iron is also necessary for the creation of energy in the “mitochondria” (the little energy producing “areas” inside the cells).
When Iron in the blood is incapable of providing life-giving oxygen to the cells, some of the symptoms that appear include; weakness, fatigue, dizziness, pale-appearing nails, lips and eyelids, irritability or depression, drowsiness, soreness in the mouth, and in females, cessation of menstruation. The first signs of severe deficiency are loss of appetite, headaches, constipation, irritability and difficulty in concentration.
Why do we become deficient in usable Iron? There are many possible reasons. Lack of Iron in the diet, folic acid deficiency, excessive bleeding, and low B12 levels. (Churchill’s Medical Dictionary lists over 100 possible causes for Iron deficiency). Although low Iron levels may be verified by blood tests, the cause can be very difficult to diagnose and if it is induced by lack of B12 it can be almost impossible. Some of the causes that lead to this condition involve prescription drugs, hormonal disorders, surgery, infections, peptic ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, heavy menstrual bleeding, repeated pregnancies, liver damage, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, bone marrow disease, irradiation and dietary deficiencies. Vegetarians often suffer from Iron deficiency because they eat a high fiber diet, which may flush minerals out of the body. They also lack B12, which is available in animal products. Elderly people who are often using many prescription drugs and who do not usually eat a sufficient balanced diet are especially susceptible to Iron deficiency.
In order to avoid insufficient Iron levels try to avoid additives found in candy bars, dairy products, ice cream and soft drinks. Look for natural alternatives. Other culprits that drop iron include tannins in tea, polyphenols in coffee, and lead and cadmium in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Some foods need to be eaten in moderation such as almonds, asparagus, beets, cashews, chocolate, kale, rhubarb, soda, sorrel, spinach, Swiss chard, and most nuts and beans. Some natural sourced of additional Iron in the diet may come from eating blackstrap molasses, broccoli, egg yolks, kelp, leafy greens, legumes, parsley, prunes, raisins, rice bran, turnip greens and whole grains. Eating fish at the same time increases Iron absorption. Herbs that may help maintain Iron levels may be added such as Alfalfa, Comfrey, Dandelion, Mullein, Nettle, Red Raspberry and Yellow Dock.
Some of the preparations that are usually prescribed often require 100 to 300 milligrams of Iron. This is usually an inorganic, almost metallic Iron source. This process assumes that the body will extract a little Iron from these large amounts but the excess in the bowels is usually very constipating. Constipation, along with abdominal pain and brown to black stools may indicate the presence of too much Iron. Research has shown that one of the most absorbable forms of Iron is Iron Glycinate. It is a small molecule that readily moves into the blood stream. People who have not been able to increase Iron levels with large amounts of inorganic Iron (100 – 300 milligrams per day) have found that the condition begins to reverse by taking only 20 – 30 milligrams of Iron Glycinate per week. Some studies suggest that Iron is more easily used if it is taken with Vitamin C and if it is not taken at the same time as Calcium.
In the early 1900′s doctors discovered that they could reverse pernicious (deadly) anemia by feeding their patients raw liver. Later it was found that the ingredient in liver that caused this result was vitamin B12. Today many people have decided to cut down on their consumption of red meat, but Vitamin B12 is also available in capsule form. The technical name for B12 is Cyanocobalamin. When this form of B12 is digested it is converted into Methylcobalamin, the form which is more easily used by the body. Methylcobalamin in supplement form is extremely expensive but the same benefits can be experienced by simply increasing the amount of Cyanocobalamin taken. Many forms of B12 may be diluted with fillers by as much as 99 % with other ingredients such as di-Calcium Phosphate and require enormous amounts to be effective, even if they are taken under the tongue. This also creates the problem that the additional fillers must be processed by the body and may create new problems. If the B12 is not diluted it makes sense that less B12 may be needed to restore Iron levels and enable the blood to carry more oxygen to the cells.
The idea of eating foods high in Iron and avoiding all of the foods that may reduce Iron levels may sound like an impossible prospect. It is not always necessary to be a “purist” in order to see benefits. Any changes in diet can only help, but with the good sources of B12 and Iron from natural supplements that are available, there is every reason to believe that anemia may be overcome in a relatively short period of time in most people.
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All Your Health Questions Answered Naturally. Maureen Kennedy Salaman. Bay To Bay Distribution, Mountain View, CA. (c) 1998.
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